Hereditary disorders of erythrocytes are common in many areas of the world, including the Middle East. In some regions of the Middle East more than 10% of the population are carriers of a gene for one of these conditions. When patients from the Middle East seek medical care in the West, an unrecognized but clinically important erythrocyte disorder can result in serious complications during routine medical care, such as a drug-induced hemolytic crisis. This article reviews the most important and most common inherited red blood cell disorders in Middle Eastern patients, including glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency, the thalassemias, and sickle cell disorders. We discuss when to suspect such conditions, how to determine their presence, and how to avoid potential complications related to them. Although a detailed discussion of treatment of erythrocyte disorders is beyond the scope of this article, some general management principles are described.
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