The analysis of the curves of thalassemic red cell survival studied in children suffering from thalassemia major, in subjects with thalassemia minor, in normal splenectomized subjects and in healthy persons shows:
(a) thalassemic erythrocytes show a marked shortening of life span, with a wide range of half life from case to case;
(b) thalassemic erythrocytes survive longer in patients with thalassemia major and minor than in normal subjects;
(c) the behavior of thalassemic erythrocyte survival curves in the anemic patients and in the normal splenectomized cases is almost similar. On the basis of these results, the authors emphasize that:
(1) valuable data on the seriousness of the hemolytic process in thalassemia major can be drawn only from autotransfusion studies;
(2) in both thalassemia major and minor the spleen has less hemolytic activity on thalassemic red cells than in normal subjects;
(3) since survival curves between anemic and normal subjects differ principally in the initial component where the most abnormal red cells are destroyed by the normal spleen, it is probable that the spleen of Patients with thalassemia major is not so greatly active against these cells.