Hematology is a branch of medicine concerning the study of blood, the blood-forming organs, and blood diseases. The word "heme" comes from the Greek for blood. Blood plays an important role in your body. It delivers oxygen and nutrients to organs and cells of your body. It also removes carbon dioxide and other waste products. The blood in your body is made up of many trillions of blood cells carried in liquid called plasma.The Hematology Department at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children cares for children with blood problems and their families. We see children for a variety of reasons – whether it be a one-time diagnostic visit, counseling regarding the child’s illness, or short- or long-term care
Our dedicated team – comprised of doctors, nurses, social workers, and auxiliary professionals – work together to provide family-centered care to each patient. Our goal is not only to make an accurate diagnosis and deliver excellent treatment, but also to provide critical education and support for every child and family.
Treatment of Blood Disorders at St. Christopher’s
There are three main types of blood cells in the human body: red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Red blood cells carry oxygen; white blood cells are cells of the immune system that protect the body against infectious diseases and foreign invaders; and platelets are parts of the blood that help the blood clot.
At St. Christopher’s, we treat all benign blood disorders, including:
- Red Blood Cell Problem(s): Anemia, which is when a patient has a low red blood cell count, may cause low energy levels, fatigue, and paleness. There are different causes of anemia, including blood loss, poor nutrition, and destruction of red blood cells. Some of the conditions are congenital and do not require treatment. In some cases, children may require iron or vitamin supplementation. Severe cases may require a blood transfusion.
- Sickle Cell Disease: Marian Anderson Comprehensive Sickle Cell Care and Research Center provides children and their families with up–to-date medical treatment for Sickle Cell Disease. Psychological and social services are also provided and play an essential role in the overall health of a child with Sickle Cell disease. We deliver acute care in St. Christopher’s inpatient pediatric units as well as preventative health maintenance and follow-up care in our outpatient center. Patients are often offered the opportunity to participate in the current sickle cell clinical trials.
- White Blood Cell Problem(s): Patients with low white cell count can be at high risk for infection and may require treatment with antibiotics or hospitalization. Some conditions are benign and do not require treatment. We will test your child and provide information and treatment to keep him or her healthy.
- Platelet Problem(s): Platelets are essential in clot formation. Patients with platelet disorders can have bleeding problems, such as nosebleeds and increased or easy bruising. They may require treatment in addition to the restriction of sports and other activities. We will test your child for platelet disorders and provide appropriate treatment and education.
- Hemostasis Problem(s): Hemostasis problems may be present when the blood does not clot well in order to stop bleeding. Patients might develop nosebleeds, heavy menstrual periods or suffer from bleeding after surgical procedures. We will test your child for bleeding disorders including Von Wille brand disease, hemophilia, platelet function disorders and other rare clotting problems.
- Thrombosis Problem(s): These are problems in which blood clots form when and where they are not needed. Some people are born with an increased risk of clotting, called thrombophilia, because of genes passed down from their parents. At St. Christopher’s, we provide state-of-the-art treatment and evaluate all the risk factors which might increase the risk of having clots in the future. We also test other family members of patients with thrombophilia to assess their individual risk.
- Bone Marrow Failure: Sometimes the bone marrow stops producing blood cells. Our hematologists, nurses and other St. Chris team members can help children and their families with diagnosis, testing, treatment and counseling.
The Bleeding Disorders Program provides care for children with hemophilia, von Willebrand disease and platelet function disorders. Research protocols help provide access to advanced care. A case management nurse and social worker help coordinate comprehensive care, working with orthopedists, physical therapists, dentists and home care nursing services.
St. Christopher's Hospital for Children in Philadelphia has highly qualified experts who are specially trained to work with the individual and unique needs of infants and pediatric patients. The team is led by Nataly Apollonsky, MD, Interim Chief, Section of Hematology. To view a list of our specialists, click here.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (215) 427-5096.