The red cell unit at UCLH is a pre-eminent national unit for investigating transfusion dependent and transfusion independent anaemias. Patients are referred locally, nationally and internationally for investigation, treatment and advice about management. We have developed a network of associated clinical expertise (such as cardiology and endocrinology), as well as diagnostic testing that is uniquely available at UCLH. Such diagnostic testing includes laboratory based methods as well as MRI imaging techniques for iron quantitation that are not available in district hospitals.
By utilising the expertise within the specialist haematology department, routine haematology, blood transfusion and haemoglobinopathy genetics laboratories, when patients are referred to our unit for investigations we can offer a more collaborative approach. This means less visits to hospital for tests and a faster turnaround time.
UCLH is the only unit that offers DNA diagnosis of haemoglobinopathies, together with other laboratory based investigations such as globin chain synthesis, alongside clinical care for thalassaemia disorders. The red cell disorders unit has the largest number of patients with thalassaemia in the UK and a large population of patients with sickle cell disease and we offer a coherent and timely diagnostic and management approach to these patients.
- Haemoglobinopathies including sickle cell and thalassaemia
- Iron overload disorders including haemochromatosis
- Enzymopathies e.g. pyruvate kinase deficiency
- Membrane disorders e.g. hereditary spherocytosis
- Secondary polycythaemia
We have approximately 300 patients with sickle cell disease and 300 patients with thalassaemia under regular follow-up. Of these about 50 per cent are under shared care with other hospitals. Additionally we are a tertiary referral centre for iron overload disorders e.g genetic haemochromatosis as well as for other red cell disorders. The paediatric haematology clinic also has capacity to review non-malignant haematology in pre-teens as well as iron or red cell disorders in a child of any age.