Sarath Babu has experienced the trauma of being father of a girl born with thalassemia. After a prolonged struggle, he managed to afford a cure for the terrible disease the little one suffered thanks to the support extended by friends and well-wishers.

“Kavyasrivarsha was five when she underwent bone marrow transplantation in 2007. Her sibling Vardhan was the donor. We are among the very few who have successfully overcome this disease in Andhra Pradesh,” says Mr. Sarath Babu.

It was a herculean task for the tormented parents to pool up funds to the tune of Rs. 16 lakh to meet the surgery expenses.

Equipped with a lot of information on Thalassemia, a disorder characterised by reduced or absent amounts of haemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein inside the red blood cells, Mr. Sarath Babu has turned into a crusader, spreading awareness on the disease and helping parents of Thalassemia patients in the best possible manner.

World Thalassemia Day on May 8 is observed to push back the disease through various effective preventive programmes. This year’s message for the day is: “Joining Hands for Inherited Blood Disorder Patients” with the hope of calling on the whole community to contribute to diagnosing and taking care of patients and fighting the disease.

To take his campaign to the next level, Mr. Sarath Babu plans to launch SAPTAH (Support and Awareness for People with Thalessemia) sometime in June.

“The programmes organised under SAPTAH will become a platform for Thalassemia patients to enhance their knowledge on issues related to the disease and find early solution to it,” says Mr. Sarath Babu.

Haemotologist from Christian Medical College, Vellore, Vikram Mathews will visit SAPTAH medical camps, he said.

Protocol makes it mandatory for blood banks to supply blood free of cost to thalassemiapatients. But barring the Red Cross Blood bank, others don’t adhere to it.

The Rotary Blood Bank at Gandhinagar will organise a mega blood donation camp followed by awareness programme for parents of children afflicted with thalassemia.

“Vijayawada city and its surrounding areas have 45-odd thalassemia patients. Bone marrow transplantation is the only cure for the disease and the success rate of these surgeries is only one out of every 10. The surgery costs Rs. 30 lakh, which is not affordable to a major chunk of the patients. These patients need blood transfusion once in every three weeks and the bank supplies blood to them free of cost. Last year, 300 units of blood given free of cost to thalassemia patients,” says S. Madan Mohan, Chief Medical Officer of the Rotary Blood Bank.

“The two basic groups of Thalassemia disorders are alpha thalassemia and beta thalassemia. These conditions cause varying degrees of anemia, which can range from insignificant to life threatening,” he explains.

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