Hereditary Spherocytosis Overview
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance brings together the leading research teams and cancer specialists of Fred Hutch, Seattle Children's, and UW Medicine. One extraordinary group whose sole mission is the pursuit of better, longer, richer lives for our patients. Learn More


In spherocytosis, a child’s red blood cells have fragile membranes because of a genetic problem. The red blood cells have a normal shape at first—flat discs, like a doughnut without the hole. Over time, small bits of their membranes are removed when the cells pass through the spleen. This makes the cells become rounder, like spheres. These cells are easily destroyed. They live a shorter life than normal cells, about 10 to 30 days instead of 100 to 120 days.

Hereditary spherocytosis is passed down from parents to children. It leads to hemolytic anemia, low levels of red blood cells because the cells are breaking down.

Children and teens with hereditary spherocytosis are treated at Seattle Children’s, a founding organization of Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. Seattle Children’s has a long history of successfully caring for children and teens with this and other blood disorders.

Expert Care for Your Child

Hereditary spherocytosis is not very common, so community doctors usually have limited knowledge of the disease. This is why in the United States most children with the disorder receive treatment at centers, like Seattle Children’s, that have special experience with children’s blood disorders. Doctors at Seattle Children’s monitor the care of almost 100 children with hereditary spherocytosis.

Seattle Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center brings together experts from more than 20 subspecialties to provide diagnostic services and treatments, including the very latest options. For example, some children with hereditary spherocytosis may benefit from surgical removal of the spleen. Our surgeons have extensive experience with laparoscopic spleen removal, even in the youngest and smallest children.

Our team of pediatric hematologists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses, Child Life specialists, social workers, and chaplains partners with you to provide expert, family-centered care and compassionate support. We help you understand your child’s health and treatment options because you, your child, and your family are an important part of the care team.

Because Seattle Children’s doctors take part in national and international research studies, and often lead them, we can offer new treatment options that many other hospitals cannot give their patients.

Learn More

Read more on the Seattle Children’s website about:

Make an Appointment

To make an appointment, call Seattle Children’s at (206) 987-2106.