18 Sep '16, 3pm
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Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH ) is a rare blood disease that causes red blood cells to break apart. Doctors call this breaking apart "hemolysis ." It happens because the surface of a person’s blood cells are missing a protein that protects them from the body's immune system. When red blood cells break apart, the hemoglobin inside is released. Hemoglobin is the red part of red blood cells that carries oxygen around the body. The release of hemoglobin causes many of the PNH symptoms. PNH can appear at any age and in any race or gender but is diagnosed most often in people in their 30s and 40s. Experts estimate between 400 and 500 cases are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. To understand PNH, you must first learn how your immune system works, and how your bone marrow makes blood. This section defines the process and explains what goes wrong when you get PNH.