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Postmortem molecular diagnosis of sickle β thalassaemia
  1. F Kutlar1,
  2. D Mirmow2,
  3. M Glendenning3,
  4. L Holley1,
  5. A Kutlar1
  1. 1Department of Medicine, Sickle Cell Center, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta Georgia, GA 30912, USA
  2. 2Aiken Regional Medical Center, Pathology Department, Aiken, South Carolina, USA
  3. 3Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Medical College of Georgia
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor F Kutlar
 DNA Laboratory of the Titus H. J. Huisman Hemoglobinopathy Laboratory, Sickle Cell Center, Medical College of Georgia, 1120 15th Street, AC-1004, Augusta, GA 30912, USA


This report describes a case in which the diagnosis of sickle cell disease (SCD) was established after death. The diagnosis of sickle cell syndrome was made in a 68 year old black patient who was found to have sickled red blood cells in many organs at necropsy although the disease had not been diagnosed during her lifetime. DNA was isolated from a peripheral blood smear obtained on the day of the patient’s death. The β globin gene was polymerase chain reaction amplified and sequenced, revealing that the patient had S-β+ thalassaemia. This study shows that blood smears are a suitable source for retrospective DNA analysis studies. This case illustrates that relatively “mild” forms of SCD can be overlooked, despite symptomatology suggestive of a sickle syndrome, and demonstrates the feasibility of the postmortem molecular diagnosis of haemoglobinopathies in such cases.

  • MCG, Medical College of Georgia
  • PCR, polymerase chain reaction
  • SCD, sickle cell disease
  • molecular diagnosis
  • polymerase chain reaction amplification
  • sequencing
  • postmortem
  • sickle cell disease

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