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International Thalassemia Day: Pop Quiz

Thalassemia is a group of blood disorders passed from parents to children through genes (inherited). A person who has thalassemia makes fewer healthy red blood cells. Their red blood cells are unable to produce enough hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen throughout the body. People who have severe thalassemia may require lifelong blood transfusions.

For the global thalassemia family, the 8th of May is a very special day. It is dedicated to both commemorate the people with thalassemia who are no longer with us, but are always close in our heart, and to celebrate all those with thalassemia who are alive and fighting every day for their right to a better quality of life.

How much do you know about thalassemia?

CDC’s Work

CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities conducts the following activities:

Thalassemia Treatment Centers (TTCs)

CDC invests in identifying, monitoring, and investigating blood disorders such as thalassemia so that we can better understand the number of people affected and the impact of the disorder. The availability of safe blood is an important public health issue for people with thalassemia because of their need for regular blood transfusions. CDC monitored blood safety for people with thalassemia who received care at CDC-funded TTCs through the Thalassemia Data Collection Project. This information will provide a better understanding of how to reduce or prevent some of the medical problems that people with thalassemia can have.

Prevention Research

To better understand the challenges of keeping up with thalassemia treatment, CDC funded the Cooley's Anemia Foundation to conduct a series of town hall meetings with people who have thalassemia. These town hall meetings provided a forum to better understand the patient perspective on following treatment recommendations.

Blood Safety Surveillance for People with Blood Disorders

The University of Mississippi Medical Center, Michigan Department of Health, Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, and Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago have been awarded the opportunity to participate in a project to accomplish the following objectives related to blood safety monitoring for people who receive transfusions to treat blood disorders, such as those with thalassemia:

  • gain a better understanding of rare blood types and blood banking practices
  • monitor the rates of transfusion-related problems
  • learn more about the risks associated with blood transfusions, including the risks of infections
  • develop interventions to prevent problems of frequent transfusions
  • perform an annual laboratory analysis to find out about the burden and location of new infections that are spread by transfusions
  • participate in special projects to address new infections

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