Aplastic anaemia (or bone marrow failure) is a serious rare disease that develops when the bone marrow fails to produce these blood cells.
Patients may have symptoms of anaemia such as paleness, fatigue, shortness of breath on exertion and rapid heart rate (caused by low red cells); excessive bleeding and a tendency to bruise easily (low platelets) and a high susceptibility to infection (lack of white cells).
It is thought that in the majority of cases, the damage to the bone marrow stem cells is caused by an auto-immune reaction. This happens when the immune system becomes “confused” and starts to attack the body’s own tissues. As this reaction has no clear underlying cause it is known as idiopathic aplastic anaemia.
In other cases, there are certain factors that can trigger an auto-immune reaction. These factors include certain drugs, some chemicals and certain diseases and infections.
The only real “cure” for aplastic anaemia is a bone marrow transplant.