The Haemolytic Laboratory is responsible for investigations of anaemia due to red cell haemolysis. In the majority of cases these include investigations for disorders of both hereditary (intrinsic) red cell disorders of the membrane, metabolism and haemoglobin, along with acquired (extrinsic) red cell disorders.
The majority of the laboratory’s workload is taken up by the screening and diagnosis of hereditary disorders of haemoglobin synthesis, collectively termed haemoglobinopathies.
The two most commonly encountered are sickle cell disorders (haemoglobin S) and thalassaemia. A variety of tests are performed, such as high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and isoelectric focusing.
The trust’s area is classed as a high prevalence area (1.5 per 10,000) for haemoglobinopathies and offers universal screening for all antenatal patients as part of the NHS Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia Screening Programme. We also confirm positive haemoglobinopathy screens referred from the Newborn Screening Laboratory which offers universal screening for haemoglobinopathies as part of the UK Newborn Screening Programme.
Haemoglobinopathies are found principally in certain ethnic populations. Sickle cell disorders are most commonly found among Afro-Caribbeans and West Africans, and to a lesser extent in those of Eastern Mediterranean and Asian origin. Thalassaemia is found mainly in people originating from the Mediterranean, Asia, and the Middle East and, to a lesser extent, Africa.
Since haemoglobinopathies affect such a large population and encompass a wide spectrum of language, culture and social aspects, the laboratory works closely with the haematology clinicians as well as counsellors from the Manchester Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia Centre.