Awareness only way to tackle thalassemia, say experts

May 8th, 2009 - 5:48 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 8 (IANS) Awareness is the only way to tackle hereditary blood disease thalassemia which afflicts approximately 100,000 in India and nearly 10,000 to 20,000 people are annually detected with it, experts here said Friday.
“Thalassemia is a hereditary blood disorder where the patients need to undergo regular blood transfusion since their body cannot produce enough haemoglobin,” said Sunil Gumber, a doctor and thalessemia expert at the Guru Tegh Bahadur (GTB) hospital here on World Thalassemia Day Friday.

The average life span of a person suffering from thalessemia major is low since there is no cure for the disease except a bone marrow transplant and regular blood transfusion, he said.

“Therefore, awareness is the only tool to battle this disease. Pregnant women are tested in the first trimester of their pregnancy to check whether they or their foetus is carrying thalassemia. In case the woman is a carrier, then the husband is also tested, because if both are carriers, there is a 25 percent chance that their baby will be born with thalassemia major,” Gumber told IANS.

“Every year India adds 10,000-20,000 patients to the world thalessemia population,” Gumber told IANS.

“India has approximately 100,000 people suffering from thalassemia,” said Shobha Tully, president of the Federation of Indian Thalassemics, while Rashmi Kalra of the Thalessemia India, an NGO which works with patients of the disease, said that there were about 2,000 children suffering from thalassemia in Delhi alone.

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