Here we take a look at Aplastic Anaemia, as we look at the shortage of stem cell donors from minority backgrounds.
Aplastic anaemia (AA) is a potentially life-threatening condition caused by the bone marrow’s inefficient production of replenishing blood cells. Anaemia usually refers to a lack of red blood cells but with aplastic anaemia the term refers to a lack of all three blood cell types; red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.
Each blood cell type has an incredibly important role; red blood cells carry oxygen around the body, white blood cells fight infections, germs and bacteria while platelets stop us bruising and bleeding.
Without efficient production of red blood cells sufferers can feel tired, short of breath and look pale. A lack of white blood cells can lead to recurrent and severe infections while a lack of platelets can cause unexplained bruising, bleeding gums and nose bleeds to name but a few.
AA is a serious illness with 100-150 new cases being diagnoses in the UK each year.
Aplastic Anaemia is a rare disease and affects people from all ethnicities, the treatment for aplastic anaemia can include a stem cell transplant. Stem cell therapies fall into two broad categories; transplant or regenerative medicine. Currently the NHS only use stem cells in transplant medicine and stem cell matches on the donor register will only be used for transplant medicine. As we continue with our awareness campaign we will highlight not only the shortage of donors and race in transplant medicine but also the illnesses which can be treated with stem cell transplants.