May 8 is observed as World Thallasaemia Day and the theme for this year was 'Be Aware.Share.Care: Working with the global community as one to improve thalassemia knowledge.'
To know more about thalassaemia, Fit Northeast had a conversation with a pathologist at the GNRC Hospital, Dr Shabnam Akhtar Ahmed.
As explained by Dr Ahmed, thalassaemia is a hereditary issue or problem of the blood where the hemoglobin (under the red blood cells) changes its shape. Some kinds of alpha chain or beta chain are necessary to form the hemoglobin. There are alpha and beta chain present with the him. The alpha chain is a protein chain, which is also called the Globin chain. This globin chain has 4 genes, among which, 2 we get from our mother and the other 2 we get from our father. If anyone among the two is defective, then the symptoms are not so severe but if both the genes are defective, then the symptoms will be clearly visible. On the other hand if the gene received from the father or if 3 genes are defective, then the symptoms are severely visible. But if all the four genes are defective, the chances of the child's survival is almost nil.
In terms of Beta thalassaemia also, we get one gene from the father and one other from the mother and if the patterns or shapes of these genes are somewhat abnormal, then it is called trait or beta thalassemia minor (if the pattern of one of the gene is abnormal) and we call it beta thallasaemia major if both the genes are abnormal. In case of the minor, the symptoms are less severe and in case of major the symptoms are more severe.
Beta thalassaemia includes the haemoglobin E disease, which is clearly prevalent in Northeast India . Thalassemia can also occur from various haemoglobinopathy like haemoglobin S, haemoglobin E, alpha thalassaemia, beta thalassaemia.
Beta thalassaemia includes the haemoglobin E disease, which is clearly prevalent in Northeast India . Thalassemia can also occur from various haemoglobinopathy like haemoglobin S, haemoglobin E, alpha thalassaemia, beta thalassaemiaThe main function of haemoglobin is to carry oxygen from the lungs to the entire body. As there is a change in the pattern of haemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying capacity will get hampered. As result of which, the person or patient will feel extremely tired all the time, weak, the colour of the face might turn yellowish or pale. In major thallasaemia patients, there are bone deformities seen, slow growth, the size of the stomach increases as the size of the spleen and the liver increases and the colour of the urine may turn dark.
It was added that thalassaemia is quite common in most of the Indians. In Northeast it raises from 8 to 14%.
A child suffering from thalassaemia will frequently require blood transfusion as the RBCs do not survive (or gets destroyed) for 120 days due to the deformity of the cell pattern. At every licenced blood bank, thallasaemia patients are given free blood.
The doctor added that a genetic counselling is very necessary.
It is suggested that when a couple thinks of family planning, they should visit the laboratory and get a test done, which is called Electro Phorasis, which helps in diagnosis of any abnormality. If there is any abnormality seen on the parts of the parents, then are then suggested to use assisted reproductive methods, where the disease-free ovam is implanted in the mother's womb.