Hematology

The diagnosis of a blood disorder may feel like an uphill battle for you and your child. We’re here to help guide you on this path. With the latest research, participation in clinical trials, and comprehensive treatment services, we offer the region’s top blood disorder care. We’ll support your child and your whole family with patient-centered care throughout this journey.

UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital focuses on making your child whole again.

Hematology conditions we treat

There are many different types of blood disorders, some of which are lifelong illnesses. Treatments are often unique, based on the patient and the type of disease. Care plans focus on treating symptoms and on teaching patients how to live with a lifelong condition. Our hematology team is skilled in identifying and delivering the best treatment options to meet your child’s unique needs.  

Anemia

This condition occurs when your child does not have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen. It can often be a symptom of other illnesses somewhere else in the body.

Sickle cell disease, thalassemia, and other hemoglobinopathies

Hemoglobinopathies are a family of inherited blood disorders that cause abnormal production of hemoglobin molecules—the part of red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body. Thalassemia occurs when your child makes hemoglobin differently and has less hemoglobin than normal.

Sickle cell disease, also known as sickle cell anemia, is a hemoglobinopathy caused by abnormally shaped red blood cells that cannot carry oxygen as well as normal cells and that can get stuck in blood vessels, leading to pain and other issues.

Bleeding disorders

Several blood disorders cause abnormal clotting of the blood. Some conditions, like hemophilia and Von Willebrand’s disease, prevent blood from clotting, leading to excessive bleeding and bruising.

The Hemophilia Treatment Center (HTC) is committed to providing the best care for individuals with bleeding disorders. The center provides services to more than 700 patients, both pediatric and adult, from Iowa and western Illinois who have been diagnosed with a bleeding disorder. We offer state-of-the-art comprehensive clinical care, education to patients and their families, and accessibility to clinical research projects that are oriented to improve the lives of people with these types of disorders.

Clotting disorders

Blood clots are created to help the body stop bleeding, several inherited or acquired conditions can alter the blood leading to the formation of unnecessary blood clots.

Acquired and inherited bone marrow failure syndromes

Some inherited diseases can prevent your child’s bone marrow from producing one or more types of blood cells in adequate quantities. Other times these problems can develop later in life.

White blood cell disorders

Leukocytes, or white blood cells, help your child fight infections. Having too many leukocytes (leukocytosis) or too few (leukopenia) can lead to problems, such as inflammation or difficulty fighting infections.

Platelet disorders

Platelets help to stop bleeding and plug holes in blood vessels. When platelets are too low, your child may have excessive bruising and bleeding.  Kids can have low platelets from birth or can get low platelets in childhood because their immune system starts destroying their own platelets.  That is called ITP and can be acute and temporary or longer lasting (chronic).

Vascular malformations

These growths, made up of blood vessels, are often present at birth. Many are cosmetic and visible on the skin but do not harm your child’s health, but some may cause problems. Some examples of malformations include venous malformations and lymphatic malformations.

Neonatal hematological problems

Newborns can experience problems with their red blood cells, including hemolytic disease of the newborn and anemia. One possible cause of these illnesses is the Rh factor, a protein on the surface of blood cells.

Treatments and services

Treatment for blood disorders varies by disease, age of your child, and symptoms. Because each child is unique, our team meets with you to discuss specific needs, family dynamics, long-term goals, and the emotional aspects of the diagnosis. Our team develops the best treatment services specific to your child.

Evaluation and diagnostics

To diagnose your child’s illness, your care team may conduct a wide variety of blood tests, including clotting tests or bone marrow aspiration. The team may also recommend specialized imaging in collaboration with radiology.

Screenings and comprehensive evaluations

Depending on your family history, your child’s care team may screen for inherited conditions such as hemophilia. We work closely with the region's best pediatric surgery teams, including pediatric anesthesiology, to conduct biopsies of lymph nodes, bone marrow, or other affected tissue to provide an improved diagnosis.

Blood and marrow transplant

There are a number of highly effective treatments for the symptoms of sickle cell disease and other blood disorders. Some patients have been successfully treated with blood and bone marrow transplants.

Medication and biological therapies

Many blood diseases require medication treatments. The hematology program has a specialty pharmacy to serve patients with unique medication needs, such as patients diagnosed with hemophilia. Some disorders, including sickle cell disease or anemia, can be treated with chemotherapy-like medicines. Sometimes a patient will need ongoing medication therapy. The treatment team can recommend placement of a long-term IV access so medicine can be given more easily over time.

We also use some of the newest biological therapies for blood disorders.  These include monoclonal antibody treatments that help regulate the immune system or infusions of mixed antibodies that can help protect platelets and red blood cells.

Support services

Treatments for blood disorders are often lifelong. At UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital, we provide care with a comprehensive approach, which means the hematology team include nurse coordinators, social workers, physical therapists, dentists, genetic counselors, and pharmacists. This comprehensive team helps manage the social, emotional, financial aspects of having a blood disorder.

Our HTC Community Nurses extend the HTC care model into the home setting teaching patients and families to manage chronic therapies at home. Through education and support, nurses empower patients and families to gain independence by learning skills they can perform at home.

Why choose UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital?

When you and your child face a complex diagnosis, knowing where to go for treatment should be clear. At UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital, we bring together the region’s top doctors and specialists to deliver comprehensive care in an environment that supports your child at every step.

A multidisciplinary approach

Blood diseases can touch many different aspects of your child’s health. That’s why we work as a team and develop treatment plans that are specific to your child’s needs. Your child benefits from a care team that collaborates with adult care specialists, providing a seamless transition of care when the time comes. Working with highly skilled nurses, therapists, social workers, and mental health specialists, the hematology team will ensure your child is cared for throughout the treatment process and beyond.

Access to clinical trials

We’re the region’s only pediatric academic medical center. Our physicians and researchers work every day to find innovative treatments for your child’s illness. We’ll talk with you about the latest in clinical trials and the newest techniques academic medicine can offer. Trials include collaborative research in novel therapeutics, gene therapy, and drug trials. All open clinical trials are listed on the clinical trials website.

Care that lasts a lifetime

You and your child are not in the fight alone. The hematology program offers a hemophilia camp for children to meet other kids living with disorders. The camp brings together peers to support each other, develop friendships, and learn how to manage their condition over the long haul. The hematology program also offers a Sickle Cell Family Fun Day for our patients with sickle cell and their families. This day offers opportunity to connect with other families as well as education about the chronic illness they battle every day as well as plenty of fun and memories.

Resources for you

Health information

Understanding your child’s health is important. The UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital health library helps to answer some of the questions you have about health care.

Patient Stories

  • Kinzie Hemann

    Kenzie Hemann portrait Days after her first birthday, Kinzie was diagnosed with von Willebrand disease Type 3, a genetic blood disorder caused by a missing protein, which leaves her blood unable to clot. Type 3 is the most serious of the von Willebrand disease diagnoses, as symptoms include severe and spontaneous bleeding episodes.Read more
  • Beau Atkinson

    Beau Atkinson portrait Beau’s parents noticed unusual bruising on Beau’s body when he was just 6 months old and were concerned that something was wrong. Their fears were confirmed during a routine well-baby check – there was an abnormality with Beau’s blood.Read more
  • Caitlyn Hill

    Caitlyn Hill thumbnail When Caitlyn’s parents were considering moving to Iowa City in 2006 they wanted to be sure their then-3-year-old daughter would have excellent care for her sickle cell anemia, a red blood cell disorder that mostly affects African Americans in the U.S. Their hopes were realized when they met the UI Stead Family Children's Hospital’s hematology team.Read more
  • Jack Koehn

    Jack Koehn thumbnail When prenatal tests showed that Julie’s unborn baby was hydrocephalic, the NICU team began to plan for Jack’s birth. Read more

Locations and Contact

  • UI Stead Family Children's Hospital
    Level 11—Outpatient Clinic
    200 Hawkins Drive
    Iowa City, Iowa 52242
    In House Directions: UI Stead Family Children's Hospital public elevator, Level 11
    Hours
    • Monday through Friday: 8 a.m. — 5 p.m.
    Contact
    • 1-319-356-2229
    • 1-888-573-5437 (888 573 KIDS)
    • 1-319-356-1616 (Emergency)
  • University of Iowa Health Care–Cedar Falls
    2624 Orchard Drive
    Cedar Falls, Iowa 50613
    Contact
    • 1-877-891-5350 (Scheduling)
    • 319-268-3770 (Fax)
  • Lincoln Road Healthcare Building
    865 Lincoln Road
    Bettendorf, Iowa 52722
    Contact
    • 877-891-5350 (Scheduling)
    • 563-344-2244 (Fax)

Other Team Members

Clinical Nurse Coordinators:

  • Missy Aitchison, RN, BSN
  • Tami Bullock, RN-BC, BSN
  • Stacy Casey, RN, BSN
  • Michelle Krantz, RN, BSN
  • Karla Watkinson, RN, BSN

Clinical Pharmacy Specialist:

  • Kim Steinbronn, PharmD

Clinical Trials Research Associate

  • Jamie Carr

Data Manager:

  • Alison Currie, MS

Licensed Genetic Counselor:

  • Georgianne Younger, MS, CGC 

Senior Physical Therapist:

  • Joel Lee

Social Workers:

  • Abigail Yoder, LMSW

Hemophilia Support Service Technicians

  • Steve Milder
  • April Zehms