JOHN BAVOSI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JOHN BAVOSI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Thalassaemia. Illustration of distorted red blood cells in the inherited blood disorder of thalass- aemia. Here, affected red blood cells (erythro- cytes) are variously shaped and fragile; they rapidly haemolyse (break up) as they move through the body. Thalassaemia is a fault in production of haemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying pigment in red blood cells that is formed in bone marrow. Alpha- and beta-thalassaemia refers to the type of haemo- globin affected. Symptoms of this disease include anaemia, fatigue, jaundice; bones may grow abnor- mally as the bone marrow expands to produce more blood cells. Treatment with blood transfusions is common. The disease may be fatal.
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