World Thalassaemia Day is celebrated on May 8, every year.


About Thalassaemia

  • It is the name for a group of inherited conditions that affect a substance in the blood called haemoglobin.
  • People with thalassaemia produce either no or too little haemoglobin, which is used by red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body.
  • Thalassemia can cause anaemia, leaving you fatigued.
  • It mainly affects people of Mediterranean, south Asian, southeast Asian and Middle Eastern origin.
  • Cause —
      • It is caused by faulty genes that affect the production of haemoglobin.
      • A child can only be born with thalassaemia if they inherit these faulty genes from both parents.
      • It’s also possible to be a “carrier” of thalassaemia, also known as having the thalassaemia trait.
  • Symptoms — The main health conditions associated with thalassaemia are —
      • Anaemia – severe tiredness, weakness, shortness of breath, pounding, fluttering or irregular heartbeats (palpitations) and pale skin caused by the lack of haemoglobin.
      • Too much iron in the body – this is caused by the regular blood transfusions used to treat anaemia and can cause problems with the heart, liver and hormone levels if untreated
      • Some people may also have delayed growth, weak and fragile bones(osteoporosis), and reduced fertility.
  • Treatments —
      • Blood transfusions – regular blood transfusions treat and prevent anaemia; in severe cases these are needed around once a month.
      • Chelation therapy – treatment with medicine to remove the excess iron from the body that builds up as a result of having regular blood transfusions
      • The only possible cure for thalassaemia is a stem cell or bone marrow transplant, but this is not done very often because of the risks involved.