Blog Post

Disease of Red Blood Cells

19 October 2016

Here at Lorne Laboratories, we supply blood grouping reagents and red blood cell suspensions that are essential when testing for antibodies and for carrying out blood transfusions. Read on for an overview of red blood cell diseases in which this equipment may be required and learn how Lorne reagents and suspensions can be utilised to carry out safe procedures.

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Function of Red Blood Cells

Red Blood Cells (also known as erythrocytes) play an important part in carrying oxygen around the body.

Starting at the lungs, they pick up oxygen then travel to the heart where the oxygenated blood is then pumped around the body.


Key Facts about Red Blood Cells

  • Are round with a flattish indented center (like a doughnut without a hole).
  • Haemoglobin is the protein inside the cells that carry oxygen.
  • The cells remove carbon dioxide from the body by transporting it to the lungs to be exhaled.
  • The cells are made inside your bones within the bone marrow.
  • Their lifespan is 120 days then they die.
  • Intaking foods that are rich in iron help keep a healthy red blood cell count.


Illnesses affecting red blood cells:

Anemia is a condition where the number of red blood cells is decreased. There are many types of anemia, with some having more serious outcomes than others.


Types of Anemia

Iron-deficiency anemia

To make red blood cells, iron is required. However a low intake of iron and a substantial loss of blood can cause iron-deficiency anemia; where the body isn’t making enough red blood cells.

This is the most common type of anemia especially as there are more people controlling what they eat so could be starving the body of iron.


Sickle cell anemia


Sickle Cell is an inherited disease where the red blood cells are shaped like Cs instead of their normal circular shape. This makes the cells sticky and causes blood flow problems, which can result in blockages. Furthermore, the blockages can then lead on to chronic pain and organ damage. The sickle cells also have a shorter lifespan than normal red blood cells surviving only 10 to 20 days rather than 120 days, this then causes a shortage of blood cells overall.


Normocytic anemia


Your body needs to produce enough red blood cells for the body to function normally, if the body is not producing enough cells this is known as Normocytic Anemia.

This type of anemia is usually caused by long-term conditions such as kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer.


Haemolytic anemia


In some cases, the body can destroy red blood cells due to an abnormality, this means the body does not have enough red blood cells to function and the bone marrow can’t keep up with the demand for more cells.


Fanconi anemia


Another inherited disorder, this type of Aplastic anemia is when the bone marrow cannot make red blood cells. In children this can be very dangerous as it stunts growth and can lead to serious conditions such as leukemia.


Pernicious anemia


Also known as B12 deficiency, is when the body is not absorbing enough B12 vitamins. This can be caused by a weakened stomach lining or by an autoimmune condition. If not managed Pernicious anemia can result in nerve damage.




Another genetic form of anemia, but mainly affects those of Mediterranean, South Asian and Middle Eastern descent. This condition causes the body to produce little to no haemoglobin, which is needed by red blood cells to carry oxygen.

Some people find they may only be carriers of the condition rather than suffering from it, however this means their children could be at risk of suffering from the condition.


Other Red Cell Conditions:


Polycythemia Vera

This condition is when the body produces too many blood cells, which in some cases can cause blood clots.




When a mosquito bites a person, they transmit a parasite into that person’s blood causing it to infect red blood cells. This leads to the cells rupturing leading to organ damage.


Carrying out a Safe Blood Transfusion

The treatment and prognosis for red blood cell diseases will vary depending on the blood condition and its severity but there are several types which will require a blood transfusion. 

To perform a safe blood transfusion, the antigens within the red blood cells have to be grouped by blood type; additionally, the hospital has to ensure the patient requiring the transfusion has no antibodies in their blood against human red blood cell antigens.

Red Blood Cell Suspensions that have known antigens on them can be used to test for these antibodies in human blood.

If you would like to know how our blood grouping reagents and red blood cell suspensions that can be used for carrying out blood transfusions and other safe procedures then please e-mail our team at  Lorne Labs HQ and we'll be in touch. We're proud to say our range of Red Cells are in full compliance with UK Red Book Standards.

View our range of Red Cell products today.

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