Who is at Risk?
Do you or someone you love suffer from Fanconi anemia? Fanconi anemia is a blood disorder that can lead to bone marrow failure. This aplastic anemia prevents the bone marrow from making enough new blood cells for organs to function properly. Fanconi anemia is an inherited disease that may be passed to a child when both parents have the same gene mutation. According to the National Heart, Lung, & Blood Institute, 1 in every 181 people in the United States is a Fanconi anemia carrier, although not all carriers have the actual disease. It occurs equally in males and females, and any ethnic group may be affected.
What Does it Do?
Often, Fanconi anemia leads to birth defects in children. According to the Fanconi Research Fund, at least 60% of individuals affected by Fanconi anemia are born with at least one physical anomaly. It can also lead to some cancers and other serious health problems. Although it is considered a blood disorder, Fanconi anemia can affect the entire body. When a person’s bone marrow fails, it can’t make enough red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. This can cause many problems and symptoms. Not having enough red bloods cells can lead to extreme fatigue while too few white blood cells increase risk for infections. Too few platelets can cause someone to bruise and bleed easily, including internal bleeding. A person with Fanconi anemia may have tiny red or purple spots on the skin called petechiae that occur from small blood vessels bleeding below the skin.
How Can it Be Treated?
The first cord blood transplant for Fanconi anemia was done in 1988 and since then cord blood has become an important method to treat the disease. Healthy stem cells are used to replace the faulty cells in the bone marrow. This allows the body to make enough of all three types of blood cells and mitigate symptoms.
New England Cord Blood Bank clients have a successful history of treating Fanconi anemia. One example is Cameron, age 10, who was treated for this disease using her brother’s cord blood stem cells. Watch this video to see her story:
Learn more about how umbilical cord stem cells are currently being used to treat Fanconi anemia and 80+ other diseases.
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