Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) is a condition that affects the bone marrow and the blood cells it produces.
Your bone marrow makes different types of blood cells:
Red blood cells, which carry oxygen in your blood.
White blood cells of different types, which are important elements of your immune system.
Platelets, which help your blood to clot.
Your bone marrow needs to produce the proper number of these cells. And the cells need to have the right shape and function.
As many as 100,000 people in the United States have the disease, which causes red blood cells to resemble sickles or crescents. The misshapen cells can reduce blood flow, which starves vital organs of oxygen and can lead to chronic fatigue and intense pain.
Many people who don't have the disease carry a gene for it. Screening is essential, a message Tate will spread this month via Facebook and Twitter (@LarenzTate). "If you can prevent the disease, you can really make a difference in someone's life," says Tate.
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