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What Is Thalassaemia?

Thalassaemia is an inherited blood disorder which is caused by an abnormal gene. A person with Thalassaemia is unable to produce normal, functioning hemoglobin in the blood.
Hemoglobin carries oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body. When the body is not able to produce normal, functioning hemoglobin, the affected person suffers from anemia.
Thalassaemia is passed on from parent to child and can affect both males and females. In India, about 3.5% of the population are carriers of the Thalassaemia gene.

What Are The Types Of Thalassaemia?
There are two types of thalassaemia:
1. Thalassaemia minor (Thalassaemia trait or Carrier).
2. Thalassaemia major.

A person who has inherited one Thalassaemia gene is said to have Thalassaemia minor (Thalassaemia trait or Carrier). He or she is healthy and leads a normal life. Most people with Thalassaemia minor do not know that they have it. However, the affected persons can pass on the abnormal gene to their children.

Thalassaemia major is a severe form of anemia. The affected person has inherited two Thalassaemia genes, one from each parent. He or she may look normal at birth but within 1 - 2 years of life, will suffer from severe anaemia, which leads to poor growth and development as well as a shorter lifespan.

The affected person will need blood transfusion every month to sustain life.

Any permanent cure / treatment of Thalassaemia major?

At present, a bone marrow transplant is the only hope of possible cure for thalassaemia major but the risks are considerable. Permanent and best treatment for such children is Bone Marrow Transplantation ( B.M.T. ) with a matched brother / sister. The odds of finding a compatible donor are around 30 per cent and most donors are siblings. This operation is more successful in young children who don’t suffer from iron overload, but graft rejection or even death can still result. The risks involved mean that bone marrow transplantation is not a viable option for some families. It should be remembered that a person with thalassaemia major can live a normal life with regular transfusions and medication. Genetic research is ongoing in the hope of finding a cure.

Thalassaemia minor are absolutely normal & healthy like YOU and do not know that they are minors unless they have a special blood test HbA2/Hb Electrophoresis.

In India Bone Marrow Transplantation is available at Christian Medical College and Hospital , Vellore Tamil Nadu . The estimated cost of B.M.T at C.M.C H Vellore is around 12 lac. In addition to this cost, medicines and timely investigation before and after B.M.T costs another 2 – 3 lac making a total budget of Rs. 14 – 15 Lac . this condition is beyond the reach of most. [ Rs. 45 = around 1 dollar] Bone marrow transplants

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