The most misunderstood disorders are those that affect blood cells. When you read that a patient has aplastic anemia, your mind does not register that this disorder may be life-threatening. Instead, you say, “Eat foods rich in iron. You’ll be fine.” Understanding a disorder helps beat it.
What are blood disorders?
A blood disorder is a condition that affects the function of your blood cells including red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Each of these has a specific function.
Red blood cells carry oxygen and nutrients throughout the body
White blood cells fight infections
Platelets are responsible for forming clots
A blood disorder can affect one or a combination of these types of cells.
What causes blood disorders?
There are numerous causes of blood disorders. These include damaging treatments like chemotherapy, bone marrow damage, cancer, chemical exposure, gene mutation, viral infections, heredity or even complications during pregnancy. Doctors still cannot point out the exact reason for the occurrence of such disorders.
What are the symptoms of blood disorders?
Symptoms depend on the various blood disorders. In the case of red blood cell disorders, you may experience weakness, exhaustion, shortness of breath, tachycardia, and fogginess while trying to concentrate.
When affected with white blood cell disorders, you might have chronic infections, unexplained weight loss, weakness/fatigue, and a feeling of being sick.
Platelet disorders have visible symptoms. You may find injuries that do not clot or heal, unexplained nosebleeds, bleeding from gums and bruising in skin. 21-year-old Veerendra, is an MA student, the only graduate from a farmer’s family, who is fighting aplastic anemia. He is unable to go to college now and will bleed to death without a bone marrow transplant.
What are the types of blood disorders?
Blood disorders are classified based on the types of cells they affect. Abnormalities in the red blood cells cause:
Anemia – deficiency in the number of red blood cells
Aplastic Anemia - a type of anemia occurring when the bone marrow fails to produce enough of all three types of blood cells.
Fanconi Anemia – inherited disorder that causes bone marrow failure where it stops producing all kinds of blood cells.
Sickle Cell Anemia – an inherited blood disorder where blood cells are sickle (or “C”) shaped and block blood flow.
Thalassemia – an inherited blood disorder causing the body to produce an abnormal type of hemoglobin.
Abnormalities in the white blood cells cause:
Myelofibrosis – fibrous substance in the bone marrow, anemia and an enlarged spleen.
Myeloma – cancer of plasma cells (type of white blood cells)
Myelodysplasia –bone marrow does not function properly and does not produce enough normal blood cells.
Leukemia – cancer of white blood cells
Lymphoma – tumor in the lymph nodes or lymphoid tissue.
Any deficiency in platelets can cause excessive bleeding or bruising
Immune Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP) – decreased number of platelets causing bleeding, and easy bruising.
Essential Thrombocytosis –platelets are overproduced, leading to blood clotting and bleeding.
Clotting Disorders – affects the ability to clot blood, can cause excessive bleeding or excessive clotting.
Hemophilia – A bleeding disorder from an abnormality in one of the factors of blood clotting.
Hypercoagulable states – abnormality that increases a person’s risk of developing a blood clot.
Hemochromatosis – body absorbs extra amounts of iron from the diet.
10-year-old Laxman needs blood transfusions every 3 days. He gets bruised easily. He is always down with fever and his parents are afraid they will lose him if they cannot afford a bone marrow transplant.
What is the treatment for blood disorders?
Treatment options are based on age, type of disorder, severity, and current condition. Medications usually help manage a blood disorder. Blood transfusion is another option that helps replace abnormal blood cells with healthy blood cells. Doctors may advise bone marrow transplant to repair or replace damaged bone marrow with healthy donor stem cells.
How to use crowdfunding for blood disorders?
Sometimes, blood disorders appear without any warning. The symptoms are so subtle that a family is not prepared for treatment. Some families who combat this disease in India are those who marry within the family. As there is not much awareness in the rural areas about such inherited disorders, they face such complications. Sometimes, parents end up in loans trying to keep their child alive with blood transfusions. Crowdfunding can ease their pain, and help these children have a better life.
Her son committed suicide and her daughter-in-law ran away on the day of her son’s funeral. Elavarasi was left with their child, Gopinath who was fighting Thalassemia, even before she could recover from the grief of losing her son. The doctors recommended a bone-marrow transplant (BMT) before iron from the transfusions built up in his organs. But the BMT needed Rs 25 lakhs. Elavarasi worked as a cook in two houses and her husband worked as a local electrician. They couldn’t even imagine raising such as huge amount, but this was their grandson and they were determined to get him treated and started a crowdfunding campaign that raised Rs. 20,97,707.
Through crowdfunding, the family of the patient can relieve some of the financial strain of the surgery by asking for the generous and compassionate support of the community.