Thalassemia, related to the reduction in red blood cells, is rapidly increasing in India forcing doctors to make a fervent appeal for improved awareness and preventive measures at primary and social levels. No two Thalassemia minor patients should be allowed to marry.
Doctors say that the number of Thalassemia minor patients should be reduced immediately, as this would be the right way to address the big problem. Rotary Red Cross Blood Bank Chief Medical Officer S. Madan Mohan, told The Hindu that while Thalassemia minor patient was just a carrier, Thalassemia major patient was actually suffering from the disease, which means reduction in RBCs and consequent short supply of oxygen to the vital body organs. There were about 10 crore Thalassemia minor patients in the country, he said. Explaining the severity of the problem, Dr. Madan said that if two Thalassemia minor patients marry, there were 25 per cent chances that their offspring suffered from Thalassemia major disease and this means that they cannot lead normal life with their life span being cut short to just 25 to 30 years under conditions of regular blood transfusion. “Here something can be done. Stop two Thalassemia minor patients getting married. Related tests should be done and social awareness in this respect must improve,” Dr. Madan opined.
In the US, there is one Thalassemia minor patient per 2.27 lakh population but in India the ratio is one to 25, which is alarming. Moreover, about 10,000 Thalassemia major patients are being added to the present numbers and 90 per cent of them are dying for obvious reasons like lack of awareness and timely blood transfusion. A Thalassemia major patient requires regular blood transfusion.
Dr. Madan said that Thalassemia was reported more in India because of genetic deformation and these patients were not vulnerable to malaria, but there were such symptoms of this disease that make the patient's life miserable. So, it is important that prevention was ensured at the stage of Thalassemia minor with the help of awareness and increased literacy, he opined.