Worldwide Initiative for Rh Disease Eradication (WIRhE): Developing Educational Content to Help Eradicate Rh Disease

Marissa Caldwell

Name: Marissa Caldwell
School: Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, Class of 2024
Mentors: Brie Stotler, MD, Steven Spitalnik, MD

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Rh Disease is a serious hemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn that occurs when an Rh-negative mother is alloimmunized to the Rh(D) antigen and becomes pregnant with an Rh-positive child. Anti-Rh(D) IgG antibodies cross the placenta, resulting in hemolysis of fetal blood cells, anemia, jaundice, brain damage, and other serious complications. Prophylaxis for Rh disease with anti-Rh(D) immunoglobulin is 99% effective and has virtually eradicated Rh disease in most developed countries. However, it is estimated that worldwide, 50% of women who need treatment do not receive it. WIRhE (Worldwide Initiative for Rh disease Eradication) is an international effort launched in 2019 to increase awareness of Rh disease and provide patients, healthcare providers, advocates, and researchers with the tools they need to prevent this devastating condition. WIRhE maintains a website for information and collaboration, and this summer several new resources were created for publication on the website. These include patient-centered handouts on the etiology, treatment, and prevention of Rh disease and summaries of recent literature about hemolytic diseases. These will aid WIRhE in its mission to ensure women worldwide have access to the resources they need to protect their babies from Rh disease.