Red Blood Cell Disorders Program

Red blood cell disorders, including anemia, sickle cell disease and thalassemia, can affect your child’s health and development. Most of these conditions are rare, which is why it’s important to seek treatment from an experienced care team. This is precisely what you’ll find at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

We are home to one of the largest erythrocyte (red blood cell) disorder programs in California. And CHLA is among few centers nationwide that have received federal funding for thalassemia care. Your child benefits from internationally recognized specialists and innovative treatments. Our personalized approach helps more children have an excellent quality of life.

Pediatric Red Blood Cell Disorder Care: Why Choose Us

As a large center, we offer a depth of experience with rare and complex erythrocyte disorders that’s not widely available. We build lasting relationships with children and their families that often start when the children are newborns. Our team is meticulous in tailoring therapies as your child gets older or has changing needs. These are some of the many reasons families choose CHLA.

As part of CHLA’s internationally recognized Hematology program, our Red Blood Cell Disorders Program offers:

  • Expertise: Your child receives care from a pediatric hematologist with expertise in erythrocyte disorders. In addition to decades of experience, our specialists have conducted research that led to groundbreaking discoveries. Our team shares this knowledge through publications and speaking engagements all over the world. Meet our team.
  • State-of-the-art infusion center: Red blood cell disorders typically require frequent blood transfusions, which we deliver in our Infusion Center. We offer a child-friendly and comfortable care environment. Our team is setting national standards for pediatric and young adult infusion services.
  • Preventive care: A complication of frequent infusions is iron overload disorder, which can harm vital organs. CHLA is home to pioneering efforts for assessing, preventing and managing this condition. We use advanced techniques to catch any early signs of a problem so your child receives appropriate care. Read more about iron overload disorder care.
  • Transition program: We help young adults smoothly transition to adult blood disease specialists. A dedicated team teaches adolescents how to take ownership of their care and navigate common challenges. Find out more about the PASSAGES Transition Program.

What Are Red Blood Cell Disorders?

Red blood cells (erythrocytes) transport oxygen throughout the body. Hemoglobin, a protein inside red blood cells, helps with this action. Red blood cell disorders interfere with this process.

Red blood cell disorders may cause issues with:

  • Red blood cell production
  • Cell shape
  • Hemoglobin and its ability to transport oxygen
  • Erythrocyte counts, including too many or too few

Our Team Approach to Treating Erythrocyte Disorders in Children

A team of specialists guides every step of your child’s care. Your child may see multiple members of our team in one visit, helping them get the most out of each appointment. This team of specialists coordinates ongoing treatment that addresses your child's evolving needs.

In addition to a hematologist, our team includes a:

  • Nurse practitioner with expertise in red blood cell disorders, who co-manages your child’s care along with the hematologist.
  • Psychologist, who addresses anxiety and other mental health issues by sharing coping techniques.
  • Social worker, who identifies and addresses practical challenges related to your child’s care, including access to medications.
  • Case manager, who helps coordinate all the medical and support services your child receives.
  • Child Life specialist, who uses age-appropriate techniques to explain treatments and ease your child’s worries.

Erythrocyte Conditions We Treat

Types of red blood cell disorders we treat include:

  • Anemia
  • Polycythemia vera
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Thalassemia
  • Other rare and genetic red blood cell disorders

Innovation and Research for Red Blood Cell Disorders

We are advancing care for red blood cell disorders through research. Our interests include new approaches to evaluating blood flow and nervous system issues in children with sickle cell disease. Researchers have also made significant breakthroughs in measuring and treating iron overload disorder. Your child may be able to participate in these efforts through clinical trials.

Explore our research and clinical trials.

Contact us

The Cancer and Blood Disease Institute welcomes new patients, referrals and second opinions. Please call us to make an appointment.