Spherocytic anemia is a genetic cell membrane disorder of your erythrocytes or red blood cells (RBC). Due to the mutations of the genes that code for the proper shape of your erythrocytes, instead of having the stereotypical flattened disc shape, the erythrocytes become spherical, hence the name. Being spherical, they are less flexible and cannot carry the same capacity of oxygen as regularly-shaped erythrocytes.
In a normal individual, the immune system’s response to infections is initiated by the spleen. The spleen acts as a sieve that excludes pathogens and cellular debris out of the body. Unfortunately, due to the abnormality in the shape of the erythrocytes, it is difficult for the erythrocytes to pass through the spleen.
Due to the abnormality of the cell membrane structure of the erythrocytes, this prompts the spleen to lyse them at a much greater pace. This process of breaking down erythrocytes is called hemolytic anemia. A normal erythrocyte’s life span is 120 days, but if an individual is afflicted with this condition, their erythrocyte might live for as short as 10 to 30 days.