How to Treat Thalassemia
The first step is detection. In India, too many people just assume that if you’re sick, you did something to deserve it. And because thalassemia is a genetic disease, the parents often get blamed if their child has the disease. “You must have done something that made your kid get this.”
A simple blood test can detect a shortage of red blood cells, cells that are too small, or abnormal hemoglobin
Because the blood continues to not produce enough red blood cells or hemoglobin, people with thalassemia need regular blood transfusions of healthy blood.
Over time, their own deficient blood eventually replaces the healthy blood, and they need more.
Treatment Has Dangerous Side Effects
One problem of too many blood transfusions is that iron builds up in the body. Too much iron can damage the heart and internal organs, and leads to early death too.
But left untreated, thalassemia itself can cause early death, often before age 30.
So if you do nothing, your heart and liver can fail. But if you treat it, your heart and liver can still fail, but for a different reason. That’s why you have to add an additional treatment step called ‘chelation’ to remove the excess iron.
With these combined treatments, a thalassemia sufferer has hope to live a regular life span. This is our goal – to give as many kids with thalassemia as possible the chance to live a full and normal life.
But we can only do this with your help.
Also, if detected early enough in childhood, some forms of thalassemia can be greatly reduced with a bone marrow transplant. But in general, this disease has no cure.
Blood Transfusion Roulette
The worst risk from thalassemia, as you probably already guessed, is getting another much worse disease from a tainted blood supply. In India, this is a huge problem. Many thalassemia patients, like 6-year-old Ishita Malik, also now suffer from Hepatitis C. Others have contracted HIV.
So it’s not just about helping the poor kids pay for their transfusions and chelation. It’s about donating healthy blood in enough supply that they don’t have to worry about getting new diseases.
Remedia director Jillian Haslam gives Christmas
cheer to kids in India suffering from thalassemia
Remedia Director Jillian Haslam’s View on Thalassemia
It’s hard to put into words how terrible it is to watch these kids suffer. It’s not just the physical suffering, the lost energy, the weak immune systems, and the new diseases they get from tainted blood.
It’s also the social isolation. The blame they and their parents get for a disease they didn’t ask for. They are made into outcasts. They are rejected by the mainstream culture.
And all this can be prevented! All we have to do is provide enough funding to get them the treatments they need, and these kids can lead normal lives. If they had more money, they could do it themselves. But their parents, like Sougata’s father, have to work day and night simply to survive. And the expensive and ongoing treatments thalassemia demands simply make it impossible for them to keep up.
The result? Their kids suffer and fall behind physically and socially, and they miss lots of school because they continue to fall ill. It’s tragic and completely preventable.
A Non-Western Disease
It’s a hard disease for people in Western nations like Britain and the U.S. to understand, because the genetic component of thalassemia has confined it mostly to regions in Asia and Africa, and certain Mediterranean countries.
But as people move and migration becomes easier in the modern world, thalassemia is stretching its boundaries. If you haven’t heard of it before, you will someday.
£30 Per Month = Blood Transfusions for 1 Thalassemia Kid
Don’t let this treatable disease stop kids from living the same kind of life you and your kids have lived.
All it takes is about 30 British pounds for one blood transfusion. An average patient needs about 20 of these per year. If you give 30 pounds per month, you’ll make it possible for one of India’s Kids to get most of the transfusions they need to have a normal childhood and grow up like all the other kids.
Will you help slow this treatable disease in India’s Kids?
I Want to Fight Thalassemia