What is Aplastic Anemia?


The Basics

Aplastic anemia is a rare disease in which the bone marrow and the hematopoietic stem cells that reside there are damaged. This causes a deficiency of all three blood cell types: red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

Aplastic anemia can strike at any age regardless of race or gender. However, it is diagnosed more often in children, young adults and older adults. It also appears more often in Asian-Americans. Each year, between 600 and 900 people in the U.S. learn that they have aplastic anemia.

What is Bone Marrow Failure?

Bone marrow failure happens when the marrow doesn't produce enough red cells, white cells or platelets, or the blood cells that are produced are damaged or defective. This means the body can not supply itself with the blood it needs. Aplastic anemia, MDS and PNH are bone marrow failure diseases.


Impact of Aplastic Anemia

Aplastic anemia is caused by the destruction of blood-forming stem cells in bone marrow. These stem cells normally develop into three types of blood cells: red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. The symptoms of aplastic anemia vary depending on how severe it is and how low blood counts are. Some typical symptoms include:

  • Feeling tired and out of breath after only a little exercise

  • The tendency to bruise and bleed easily

  • Bleeding that won’t stop

  • Infections and an associated fever

Aplastic Anemia Treatment Options

Immunosuppressive Therapy
Immunosuppressive drug therapy lowers your body's immune response. This prevents your immune system from attacking your bone marrow, allowing bone marrow stem cells to grow, which raises blood counts.

Bone Marrow Transplant

A bone marrow transplant (BMT) is also called a stem cell transplant (SCT) or hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT).The procedure replaces unhealthy blood-forming stem cells with healthy ones and offers some patients the possibility of a cure. But for many patients, a BMT is not an option due to the risks and potential long-term side effects as an "imperfect cure".

Information Taken From The Aplastic Anemia and MDS Foundation's website-www.aamds.org

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