Patient Story: Woman with Severe Aplastic Anemia Successfully Treated

 

Recently a woman was admitted to Odisha hospital where she was successfully treated for her rare blood disorder aplastic anemia.

Aplastic Anemia

Aplastic anemia is a rare, but serious, blood disorder. It occurs when the body’s bone marrow stops making enough new blood cells due to damaged stem cells. The condition can develop over time or quite suddenly in people of any age. However, it does tend to get worse as time passes. One type of aplastic anemia includes “congenital hypoplastic anemia,” which presents itself at birth.

Symptoms:

  • Prolonged bleeding from cuts
  • Nosebleeds
  • Bleeding gums
  • Recurrent or lengthy infections
  • Shortness of breath with exertion
  • Pale skin
  • Fatigue

Causes:

When bone marrow damage occurs, the production of new blood cells is shut down or drastically slowed. Because bone marrow produces stem cells, the production of stem cells is also halted. When stem cells are no longer being produced, platelets, red blood cells, and white blood cells become “aplastic” or “hypoplastic.” This means the bone marrow is empty or has very few blood cells. If bone marrow can’t make enough new blood cells, other health problems arise, like aplastic anemia.

Treatments:

Treatment options for aplastic anemia patients can include:

  • Blood transfusions
  • Blood and marrow stem cell transplants
  • Medicines, including:
    • Treatment to stimulate bone marrow
    • Treatment to prevent/treat infections
    • Treatment to suppress the immune system

It’s important to talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of each treatment option. People with mild forms of the disease may not need treatment immediately, but it’s definitely something to talk with your healthcare team about. In more severe cases, emergency medical care is necessary because if aplastic anemia goes without treatment, there’s a chance it could be fatal.

Discovering the Condition

A 30-year-old Jajpur woman was admitted to the hospital where she underwent multiple blood and platelet transfusions. The woman had her bone marrow biopsied which revealed she had the rare blood disorder known as severe aplastic anemia. This means her bone marrow was empty entirely and could not form new cells.

The woman was lucky to have her condition caught as soon as it was, since many patients with the condition will have frequent hospitalizations and even fall victim to sepsis. The prognosis that comes with severe aplastic anemia is not good. In most cases, patients only live for a few months.

A Successful Treatment

The only cure for severe aplastic anemia is a stem cell transplant. Therefore, the woman had a stem cell transplantation with cells from her brother. Even though her and her brother had blood group discrepancies, doctors were confident it would not affect her adversely. In addition, the woman underwent high dose chemotherapy.

It took a little less than two weeks for the donor cells to create new blood cells and the woman was able to be discharged about two weeks after being admitted. The woman was in good condition and had full blood count recovery by the time she left. Although she will need to be monitored closely for the upcoming few months, doctors are pleased with the patient’s results. If she had not gone to the hospital and had the treatment when she did, she would have only had months to live. Now, she gets to go home and live a fairly normal life.

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