Birmingham Children’s Hospital receives £50,000 boost with new sickle cell technology | News

Birmingham Children’s Hospital receives £50,000 boost with new sickle cell technology

Sickle cell patients attending Birmingham Children’s Hospital will benefit from a new red blood cell exchange device being delivered as part of a national boost in funding.

Birmingham Children’s Hospital, the largest children’s sickle cell unit outside London, cares for around 400 children with sickle cell disease from across the West Midlands and will be able to begin treatments with the £50,000 machine by the end of March.

The new device installation was announced as part of a national £1.5M investment, which will see 25 Spectra Optia® Apheresis devices rolled out across England.

As the lead partner for the West Midlands Paediatric Haemoglobinopathy Network, the haematology service at Birmingham Children’s Hospital provides some of the most advanced treatments available on the NHS including sickle cell transplants.

For patients, access to a red blood cell exchange device will have numerous benefits.

Sickle cell patients often find themselves in and out of hospitals, enduring severe pain and requiring regular 'top-up' blood transfusions.

Automating red blood cell exchanges with a device can help reduce the necessity for top-up transfusions, effectively manage pain, and lower the risk of experiencing a crisis. Eligible patients can receive treatment every six to eight weeks.

Sickle cell disease disproportionately impacts people from West African and Afro-Caribbean communities, and can cause painful episodes called sickle cell crises and can also cause an increased risk of serious infections, and anaemia, which can cause fatigue, strokes and lung problems. However, with treatment, patients can have a fulfilling life like nine-year-old Tayshelice, who proudly champions sickle cell awareness.

Dr Mark Velangi, Consultant at Birmingham Children’s Hospital and Clinical Lead for the West Midlands Paediatric Network for red cell disorders, said: “Automated red cell transfusion is the gold standard for those on long-term transfusion programmes and reduces the risk of iron build-up in the body which can add to the problems that these children face.

The funding of these machines will allow more patients to be treated in this way and will improve their long-term health.”

John Stewart, National Director for Specialised Commissioning, NHS England, added: “NHS England is committed to improving the support provided to people with sickle cell disease. This investment to increase the number of devices for automated red blood cell exchange across the country will support the expansion of services and improve access for patients who need regular transfusions.”

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