Sunday, February 04, 2007

Thalassemic or Mediterranean Anaemia

Many Southeast Asians are thalassemia carriers without knowing it. Naturally evolved as a resistance against malaria, it becomes a fatal genetic blood disorder when inherited from both parents. Nonetheless, there have been tremendous advances in treatment over the years.

While life long transfusion and intensive iron chelation therapy challenge the patient's compliance to the routine and safety of the blood supply with the question of safety of blood supply in most countries posing an additional problem, transplants have overcome these problems. Over 1,500 bone marrow transplants for major thalassemias have been performed world wide since the first success in 1982.

In recent years, hematopoietic stem cell transplants are yielding very encouraging results, even without related donors, Singapore has witnessed more than a dozen such transplantions using cord blood, with positive outcomes. Also, there has been virtually zero thalassemia birth in Singapore since the National Thalassemia Registry's active screening of all males during National Service recruitment and all females during pregnancy. Hope that this will inspire and prompt more people to take up thalassemia screening in their respective countries.



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