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Blood Donation Appeal

Donate Blood  for Thalassemia Patients

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Why should we donate blood for Thalassemia patients?

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·         Because “whoever saved the life of one, it shall be as he saved the whole mankind”.  Al-Quran.   Surah 5. Al-Maida, Ayah 32.

  • Because their lives are dependent on regular blood transfusions
  • Because donating blood may be one of the most important things you’ve ever done.
  • Because there is no factory that manufactures blood.
  • Because there is no substitute for human blood and animal blood cannot be used for human beings.
  • Because blood donation is the most precious gift of life for them.
  • Because one unit of donated blood can save lives of three persons.(blood can be separated  into several components such as Red cells, Platelets and plasma, which can meet the needs of many patients).
  • Kindly donate blood for Thalassemia patients because your little time can save some one’s life. 

What is Thalassemia?

American paediatrician Dr. Thomas Cooley first described Thalassemia as a disease in 1925. Thalassemia is the most common single gene i.e. inherited haemoglobin disorder. Thalassemia major is characterized by defective production of haemoglobin which leads to a significant drop in the level of haemoglobin and cause disturbance in the transportation of oxygen to body tissues.

Thalassemia is one of the most common inherited haemoglobin disorders in Pakistan with a fairly high prevalence of the disease due to widely accepted norm of consanguineous marriages.  Eventually, it increases the risk of having children with Thalassemia major. 

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Thalassemia Situation in Pakistan

Thalassemia is a disease that affects all walks of life, irrespective of social status, cast, creed and religion. More than 10 Million people are “Carriers” of Thalassemia in Pakistan. Annually and almost 6,000 to 7,000 children are born with Thalassemia Major in Pakistan every year. This is mainly due to lack of awareness, knowledge and education regarding this disease. It’s just like an anaconda in a swamp that lies hidden from the sight till it pounces on its prey and then doesn’t let go.

Global Situation of Thalassemia

Thalassemia is prevalent in people from countries in a broad belt extending from the Mediterranean area through the Middle East to Southeast Asia including Pakistan and India. Thalassemia gene in Mediterranean countries varies from 5 to 34% e.g. Greece, Cyprus, Sardinia and Italy.

 

Clinical Types of Thalassemia

Thalassemia has three clinical types

  1. Thalassemia Minor (Mild Anaemia)
  2. Thalassemia Intermedia (Mild to Moderate Anaemia)
  3. Thalassemia Major (Severe Anaemia)

Beta Thalassemia Minor

  • Thalassemia minor occurs when a child receives the defected gene from only one parent.
  • It is clinically insignificant with usually no symptoms. The haemoglobin level may be slightly low (mild anaemia) than people of their age or sex.
  • It  requires no treatment
  • The marriage of two partners having Thalassemia Minor can lead to birth of children with Thalassemia Major.
  • A child born with Thalassemia minor shall have it for the whole of his life.

Beta Thalassemia Major

  • Thalassemia major, also called Cooley’s anaemia, is a severe form of anaemia in which RBCs are rapidly destroyed. The iron is deposited in the skin and vital organs of the body.
  • Thalassemia major occurs when a child inherits Thalassemia genes from both of his parents.
  • When two individuals with Thalassemia minor marry, there is a 25% chance in each pregnancy that the child can have Thalassemia major.  

Thalassemia major is a serious blood disorder, in which patient’s life depends on regular blood transfusions and costly daily medication. It causes significant morbidity to the patient and psychological and financial burden on the affected families.

Symptoms of Thalassemia Major

  • Progressive pallor
  • Failure to thrive
  • Poor growth
  • Lethargy
  • Irritability
  1. A new born baby with Thalassemia Major appears normal at birth.
  2. As they grow, an infant with Thalassemia Major starts getting pale as early as 6 months of age.
  3. The abdomen may swell due to an enlarged liver and spleen.
  4. Changes occur in the appearance of face and head. 

Beta Thalassemia Intermedia:

As the name says, is intermediate in severity between Thalassemia Minor and Major, with somewhat milder clinical presentation but ultimate transfusion dependency. 

Thalassemia Treatment

Due to continuous efforts of doctors, patients can live up to 25 years or more. Otherwise as Thalassemia Major Patient cannot survive the age of 2 years if a life time and supportive treatment is not given.

ž There are two types of treatment:

  1. Supportive Treatment
  2. Curative Treatment

 

Supportive Treatment

  1. Regular Blood Transfusion (normally started within 4 months to 12 months of age).
  1. 2.    Iron Chelating Treatment

     There are two methods of Iron Chelation

  • Injection through infusion pump
  • Oral Medicine

          Normally after one year of blood transfusion the patient is depended upon

          Iron chelation therapy

  1. Hydro Oxyuria Medicine  (Latest treatment)

 

Curative Treatment:

Bone Marrow Transplant  

  • (BMT) is the only definitive cure for Thalassemia but it has its risks. These risks depend mostly on availability of a compatible family donor, generally a sibling, and the age and heath of your child at the time of transplant.
  • It consists of replacing your child’s faulty bone marrow stem cells, from which red cells originate, with those obtained from a healthy compatible donor.
  • BMT is costly and beyond the affordability of affected families.

Blood Transfusion: Transfusion of red blood cells is one of the most regularly practiced treatments for Thalassemia. Patients require red blood cell transfusions every two to three weeks.

Iron Chelation: Blood transfusions bring extra iron into the body and if transfusions are regular, iron gradually accumulates in the body and is stored in certain organs, especially the liver, the heart and the endocrine glands. This accumulated iron damages the organs where it is deposited. Fortunately, there are drugs that help the drainage of iron out of the body. The medicine used commonly is Desferrioxamine, more commonly called ‘Desferal’.

Bone Marrow Transplant: This problem may be solved if the bone marrow be replaced with a normal bone marrow. At present, only young people with a fully compatible donor can have a bone-marrow transplant. It is very expensive treatment and beyond affordability of many families.

The illness and its implications are changing almost from day to day, due to advances in treatment. With timely and correct treatment, Thalassemics live longer and relatively healthier lives now. It is reasonable to think that people with Thalassemia, well treated from the beginning, may live as long as people without Thalassemia, mean an excellent life-expectancy.

Impacts of Thalassemia

Physical

  1. Regular blood transfusions
  2. Regular Iron Chelation
  3. Bone deformity
  4. Shortness of Breath 
  5. Retarded growth
  6. Physical pains
  7. Liver, heart, brain, spleen, pancreas, thyroid, para-thyroid, pituitary and other organ complications develops. 
  8. Fatigue 
  9. Yellow skin  colour

Psychological

  1. Moderate to sever depression
  2. Sleep disorder
  3. Down graded by relatives
  4. Usage of anti depressants
  5. Aggression
  6. Irritability
  7. Lack of concentration on other family members
  8. Regrets
  9. Helplessness 

Social

  1. Isolation
  2. Adjustment in society
  3. Rejection due to lack of awareness
  4. Uncooperative behaviour of society
  5. Problems in marriage even for their siblings.

Economical

  1. Financial burdens
  2. Medicines cost
  3. Arrangement of blood 
  4. Blood screening charges
  5. Travelling expenses
  6. Lack of concentration on job