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Doctor examining child with aplastic anemia
Doctor examining child with aplastic anemia
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Is your child feeling too tired and breathless to run and play or even climb up the stairs?

These symptoms — along with bruising and infections that keep coming back — are their body’s way of saying that something could be wrong. Even if your child doesn’t have any pain or isn’t feeling sick, these symptoms can be linked to a rare and serious blood disorder called aplastic anemia. Left untreated, it can cause bleeding, all kinds of infections, heart problems and even leukemia (blood cancer).

We understand any diagnosis related to your child’s blood can be unsettling to hear. You might feel afraid and worried about their future. At Cleveland Clinic Children’s, we’re here to help you and your child work through your emotions, understand what to expect going forward and help them heal so they can get back to enjoying being a kid again.

Why Choose Cleveland Clinic Children’s for Aplastic Anemia Treatment?

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Innovation and research:

We’re nationally recognized for our research into bone marrow failure syndromes. Our team continually investigates the latest therapies and participates in clinical trials, giving your child access to the newest, most effective treatments. Meet our team.

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High-volume specialty:

We’ve seen more than 350 patients with aplastic anemia since 2002. This makes us one of the largest referral hospitals in the United States. Our team has also done more than 50 allogeneic stem cell transplants (bone marrow transplants) for aplastic anemia. We have experience and expertise with this disease.

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Comprehensive treatment:

We have dedicated adult and pediatric hematologists, molecular pathologists, immunologists, geneticists and other experts in inherited bone marrow failure disorders.

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National recognition:

U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks Cleveland Clinic Children's a top hospital in the nation. Newsweek has also named Cleveland Clinic a top hospital in the world.

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Virtual visits:

We know that pediatric aplastic anemia can sometimes make it difficult, or even unsafe, for your child to travel. That’s why we also offer virtual visits for some appointments. This convenient and safe alternative lets your child get one-on-one care from their providers from the comfort of your home. All you need is an internet connection and a smartphone, tablet or computer.

Aplastic Anemia Diagnosis at Cleveland Clinic Children’s

When your child has aplastic anemia, their body’s bone marrow isn’t making enough white and red blood cells or platelets (cells that help their blood clot). This is known as bone marrow failure syndrome because their marrow isn’t doing the job it needs to do to keep your child healthy.

An accurate diagnosis is the first step in building an effective, personalized treatment plan for your child. At their first visit, we’ll do a physical exam to check out any physical symptoms. We’ll also talk with you and them about their symptoms and medical history. Be sure to let us know if they have:

  • A family history of anemia.
  • A lot of bruising or bleeding, like frequent nosebleeds or heavy menstrual bleeding.
  • Been exposed to any toxins.
  • Had any recent viral or bacterial infections.

After their exam, we’ll likely do a number of tests to confirm if what’s going on is related to aplastic anemia.

Blood tests

A complete blood count (CBC) lets us see what’s going on with the different kinds of cells in your child’s blood. It measures white and red blood cells, platelets, hemoglobin (cells that carry oxygen) and hematocrit (volume of red blood cells). Low levels of any of these may mean they have aplastic anemia.

Bone marrow tests

We’ll also want to check to see if your child’s bone marrow is making the right amount of blood cells. We could do this with a test known as aspiration, where we’ll use a needle to remove bone marrow fluid. Or we’ll do a biopsy, where we’ll again use a needle to get a sample of bone marrow tissue. We’ll send these samples to the lab where our pathologists will look at them under a microscope to see how many healthy blood cells are in the fluid or tissue.

Meet Our Pediatric Aplastic Anemia Team

Your child’s care team could include providers from different specialties. These experts work together to confirm a pediatric aplastic anemia diagnosis. And if they do, they’ll design a treatment plan that focuses on your child’s unique needs and health to give them the best outcome. Your child’s care team may include:

Locations

Our healthcare providers see patients at convenient locations throughout Northeast Ohio.

Aplastic Anemia Treatment at Cleveland Clinic Children’s

After we look at your child’s test results, we’ll craft a personalized treatment plan based on their symptoms and how severely aplastic anemia is affecting them. There are different things we can do to relieve their symptoms and support healthier blood cell growth.

Blood transfusion

A blood transfusion means your child will get donated blood that contains platelets and red blood cells through a vein in their arm. This therapy can help them feel less tired and reduce the heavy bleeding they might have. But frequent transfusions carry health risks, so they’re not a good long-term treatment.

Bone marrow transplant

A bone marrow transplant (stem cell transplant) replaces the damaged cells in your child’s bone marrow with healthy cells that can make new blood cells. It’s the only cure for aplastic anemia. Your child is matched with a bone marrow donor — usually a close relative.

Immunosuppressive therapy

Immunosuppressants are drugs like cyclosporine and antithymocyte globulin that reduce your child’s immune system’s strength to keep it from damaging their bone marrow. Your child may have immunosuppressive therapy if they can’t have a bone marrow transplant or are waiting to find a bone marrow donor match.

Medication

If your child’s aplastic anemia makes them get frequent infections, they may need antibiotics or other medicines. They might also need medications if they have bleeding issues. Drugs like eltrombopag (Promacta®) increase the number of platelets in their blood to help improve clotting.

Taking the Next Step

It can be overwhelming just thinking about what can happen if your child has pediatric aplastic anemia. But you and your child don’t have to face any of it alone. Our caring providers will work with you both to find just the right treatment — and guide you through it — so your child can avoid complications and start feeling like themselves again.

Getting an appointment with Cleveland Clinic Children’s blood disorder experts is easy. We’re here to help your child get the care they need.

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Getting an appointment with Cleveland Clinic Children’s blood disorder experts is easy. We’re here to help your child get the care they need.


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