The bodies of people with BT may not make hemoglobin (Hgb) correctly. Hgb is an important part of an RBC, a type of blood cell, that carries oxygen through your body. Normal, healthy Hgb includes 2 sets of alpha globin and beta (β) globin. While these proteins are different, both are considered building blocks of Hgb. If your body doesn’t make enough of either one of the proteins, RBCs do not form the right way. That means they cannot carry the oxygen your organs need to stay healthy. This could result in anemia (low RBCs), which may be severe enough to require red blood cell (RBC) transfusions.
What it means to have BT may vary from person to person. Because people with BT can’t make enough working RBCs, they may need RBC transfusions regularly to manage their anemia. Transfusions add new, working RBCs to your body from a donor. They temporarily replace RBCs and help increase Hgb, but do not help your body produce more.
RBCs are rich in iron, so repeated transfusions may result in iron collecting abnormally in organs like your heart, liver, spleen, or endocrine glands. This buildup can prevent these organs from working properly, so a treatment called a “chelating agent” is often used to remove this excess iron.
People with this type of BT have anemia symptoms that can range from mild to severe. Many people eventually require regular RBC transfusions.
People with this type of BT start showing anemia symptoms as a baby. They need regular RBC transfusions and ongoing medical care.
Based on the severity of a person’s transfusion burden, they may refer to their BT as being either transfusion dependent or non-transfusion dependent.
Living with BT and its symptoms can be challenging. The symptoms you experience may be mild, or they may impact your ability to complete the tasks of daily living. There are options available to help you manage this. Your doctor will decide the right treatment option for you.
Many people with BT need RBC transfusions. RBC transfusions add donated RBCs to your body. They can improve your anemia in the short term
This treatment helps remove extra iron from your blood
A process where you receive healthy blood stem cells from a donor to replace your abnormal cells. Stem cells are a unique kind of cell that can turn into any other kind of cell. In your bone marrow, stem cells are used to make all of your blood cells