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Thalassemia Center

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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    Awards & recognition

    • Ranked among the nation's best in 10 specialties

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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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    Your Stay

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    Your Child's Care Team

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    Interpreter Services & Communication Assistance

    Interpreter services in many languages and TDDs are available for families that need help communicating with care teams. Here's how to access them.

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    Related clinics (3)

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    Blood & Marrow Transplant (BMT) Clinic

    Blood & Marrow Transplant (BMT) Clinic

    San Francisco / Oakland

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    Hematology Clinic

    Hematology Clinic

    San Francisco / Oakland / Santa Rosa / Walnut Creek

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    Hemoglobinopathy Lab

    Hemoglobinopathy Lab

    747 52nd St.
    Oakland, CA 94609

    Support services

    Child Life Services

    Activity rooms, pet therapy and more to help kids feel at home.

    Child Life

    Certified child life specialists ease the stress and anxiety of childhood illness through therapeutic play, schooling and family-focused support.

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    Family-friendly amenities help you relax and take care of yourself while staying close to your child. We offer lounges, kitchens, showers, breastfeeding rooms and more.

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    Social Services

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    Activity Rooms

    Activity rooms offer a relaxed environment for children of all ages. Features include a playroom, digital arts studio and teen lounge. Find out more.

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    Art Therapy

    Art therapy helps kids and families express themselves, making it easier to cope with pediatric health issues. Group and bedside services are available.

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    Music Therapy Program

    Board-certified music therapists help kids cope with illness and the feelings that come with it. Find out about group activities and bedside therapy.

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    School Program

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    School Re-Entry Program

    After hospitalization, we help kids return to school by educating staff and students about their needs and recommending needed accommodations. Read more.

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    Individual Playtime & Instruction

    If your child can't be around other kids for medical reasons, you can sign up for private sessions in our activity and school rooms. Find out how.

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    Interpreter Services & Communication Assistance

    Interpreter services in many languages and TDDs are available for families that need help communicating with care teams. Here's how to access them.

    Family Resource Center

    We help families cope with the challenges of childhood illness and hospitalization in a relaxing environment where parents can get a much-needed break.

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    Parent Support Program

    Weekly activities, including knitting, scrapbooking, chair massage and more, help family caregivers get a much-needed break. Find out more.

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    Patient Relations

    Patient relations reps and nursing supervisors are here to answer questions and address concerns. Learn about your rights, how to reach us and more.

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    Spiritual Care

    Chaplains help UCSF patients, families and staff cope with the spiritual and emotional challenges of childhood illness. Learn more.

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    International Services

    If you're coming to UCSF from outside the U.S., we coordinate your child's appointments and provide other helpful services. Here's how to get started.

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