YOUR HEALTH: Sickle-cell disease and blood twins
BALTIMORE, Md. (IVANHOE NEWSWIRE) - Blood donors exist for patients with sickle-cell disease, but the donors must be a perfect match.
“Most people think of a, b, and o, and then they think of whether you’re positive or negative. Positive or negative means the d antigen. But there are many more blood antigens than just those,” said Dr. Michelle Erickson, the medical director of blood resources at WellSpan Health.
If a donor is a perfect match, they are often called “blood twins.”
Malick Burrow is one of the people who requires a “blood twin.” He was born with sickle-cell disease and undergoes monthly blood transfusions.
Doctor Erikson said all the blood variants would fill up a phone book, but each one of Malick’s blood antigens must match those of his “blood twin” donor or the body reacts.
“A patient receiving a poorly matched blood unit would have a blood transfusion reaction, and it could be quite severe. It might induce hemolysis, so that those red blood cells would start to pop and break apart.” Dr. Erikson explained.
Burrow is one of the lucky ones who found a “blood twin.”
“There’s a blood twin for everybody, so we are looking for those twins to help our special patients,” Dr. Erikson added.
According to doctors, sickle-cell disease affects 100,000 Americans, whose blood cell shape resembles a crescent, instead of being round and healthy. The defective cells don’t carry oxygen, so patients must undergo transfusions.
Hospitals and blood banks also need blood desperately due to aging donors and the effects of COVID-19. Experts said that you might be the blood twin who makes a real difference.
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