A DBA patient’s bone marrow does not make enough red blood cells. A special protein in red blood cells called hemoglobin carries oxygen to all of the organs in the body. When the number of red blood cells is low, the organs in the body may not get the oxygen they need.
Around half of DBA patients rely on regular blood transfusions to increase their red blood cell count. Some people only need blood transfusions now and then, when the hemoglobin is too low. Other people need regular blood transfusions over a long period of time. Most commonly, DBA patients receive a transfusion around every 3-5 weeks.
In blood transfusion therapy the blood is given through a vein or a permanent intravenous (IV) device (often called a “port”).
Prior to each transfusion a “cross match” blood sample is taken in order to match the characteristics of transfused blood to those of the patient. This is typically done 24 hours before a transfusion. The transfusion itself is carried out at hospital and usually lasts 3-4 hours.
The main side effect of regular blood transfusions is the build up of iron in the body. This needs to be removed by means of chelation therapy.
For further information a full guide on Blood Transfusion Therapy prepared by the CDC (a US organisation) is available.
DBA UK is not a medical charity and is not qualified to give medical advice on DBA. Please talk with your doctor or health care provider if you are worried about blood transfusion therapy. However, if you would like to talk to other DBA patients and families who may have been in the same position as you then please contact us.