UCSF's Thalassemia Center, located at our Oakland campus, is one of the premier programs in the nation dedicated to the study and treatment of thalassemia. We provide comprehensive care to children and families affected by this inherited disorder.
In thalassemia, a single-gene mutation causes the body to make fewer red blood cells than normal and have less hemoglobin, the part of the cell that carries oxygen throughout the body. The result can be anemia and fatigue.
There are several types of thalassemia. Children with a mild case may not need treatment at all. Those with a severe case will need regular blood transfusions and, possibly, chelation therapy to prevent the dangerous buildup of iron in the blood that can result from frequent transfusions.
Our Thalassemia Center offers families a range of therapies to monitor and enhance hemoglobin levels and track iron levels. We're one of only four facilities in the world with a SQUID (superconducting quantum interface device), which can accurately and noninvasively measure and monitor the body's iron. We're also one of only a handful of hospitals in the nation using special software MRI technology to safely measure iron levels in a child's heart.
Thalassemia can cause multiple medical issues, so a variety of experts participate in our patients' care. We have specialty heart, liver, endocrine, vision, dental, audiology (hearing) and nutrition clinics and work closely with the Blood and Marrow Transplant (BMT) Clinic to care for patients who are candidates for a transplant. In addition, specialty nurses, social workers, genetic counselors, teachers, child life specialists, psychologists and other health care professionals collaborate with the medical staff to support patients and their families.
The center's renowned research program allows us to offer the most up-to-date and innovative therapies. Our patients have the opportunity, if they wish, to participate in clinical trials. Thanks to medical advances, leading-edge technology and scientific research, children with thalassemia now live well into adulthood.
For more information on our services and living with thalassemia, visit the Thalassemia Center's website.
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What to Bring
- Photo I.D.
- Health insurance card
- Insurance authorization, if required
- Doctor's referral, if required
- Recent test results related to your child's condition
- List of medications, including dosages, plus any your child is allergic to
- List of questions you may have
- Device or paper for taking notes
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