MEDFIELD, Mass.--(Henry Loring Masters Foundation, whose mission is to build awareness for rapid diagnosis and aggressive treatment of autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA) in youth and young adults, announced today that it is partnering with the American Society of Hematology (ASH) to offer a webinar, “Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia” on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012, 8-9 p.m. EDT, for clinicians, caregivers, patients and families. The webinar is free, with content geared to medical professionals in blood-related disciplines but open to all; register at www.hematology.org/webinarAIHA.)--The
“AIHA results when the body’s immune system hyperactivates and mistakenly targets the ‘good guys,’ the red blood cells, along with the ‘invader’, such as a virus”
The webinar will explore issues associated with early diagnosis and acute management of AIHA, including the importance of strong collaboration between blood bankers and hematologists throughout the diagnosis and treatment of AIHA. The webinar moderator will be Samuel M. Silver, M.D., Ph.D., University of Michigan Medical School. Webinar speakers will be: Marc Kahn, M.D., Tulane University School of Medicine; and Leslie E. Silberstein, M.D., Boston Children’s Hospital.
“Henry was a graduate student in public health policy at Dartmouth College when he died at the age of 25 from AIHA, which can move extremely fast in youth and young adults, surprising even seasoned professionals,” said Jeffrey Masters, father of Henry and co-founder of The Henry Loring Masters Foundation, Inc. “Our objective for this first Foundation-sponsored webinar is to make a clarion call for the rapid and definitive diagnosis of AIHA when suspicions of AIHA are present.”
According to Masters, young persons presenting with AIHA symptoms must be treated as a medical emergency, and proper diagnostics and support systems must be mobilized with urgency.
“AIHA results when the body’s immune system hyperactivates and mistakenly targets the ‘good guys,’ the red blood cells, along with the ‘invader’, such as a virus,” added Masters. “When the immune system makes this error, the body’s natural response is to destroy those cells, as it would any pathogen.
“Even in a previously healthy person with a strong immune system, red cell destruction can occur at a catastrophic rate, overwhelming the body’s ability to produce more red cells,” Masters continued. “There have been cases of a complete shutdown of red cell production, leaving the body in a hyperactive state of self-destruction without any means of making more red cells to deliver oxygen to vital tissues and organs.
“However, there are options to fight this potentially life-threatening condition with rapid diagnosis and aggressive treatment,” Masters concluded. “It is critical that AIHA be recognized as a possible diagnosis and confirmed or rejected as quickly as possible.”
The mission of The Henry Loring Masters Foundation, Inc. (www.henrymastersfoundation.org) is to honor the memory of Henry by building awareness of best medical practices for treating the illness autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA), which caused Henry’s death at age 25 in November 2009. Through this foundation, participants honor Henry’s capacity to effect change—in this case, to eliminate the fact that limited information exists on treating AIHA in teenagers and young adults.