More Smiles This Thalassemia Day
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08 May, 2010
By Megha Nayar
This World Thalassemia Day brings some heartening news – the incidence of the blood disorder is slowly falling in communities where it has been most prevalent. Says Dr Anil Khatri, paediatrician and secretary of the Thalassemia Jagruti Foundation, “Unfortunate as the problem is, it has at least brought about tremendous awareness about the disorder among the families that have patients in their midst. More and more couples are now going for pre–marital testing, a sure–shot way of preventing further cases”.
He adds that the average age of thalassemia patients has also increased significantly. “Many more patients are now growing to adolescence. Also, we now have better–evolved tablets, which take care of excessive iron deposits, the main reason for thalassemia deaths”, he says.
Khatri quotes a very encouraging example, that of a 20–year old boy who is presently pursuing a B.Tech from Nirma University in Ahmedabad. “This boy was detected with the disorder when he was 15 months old, and today, he needs two units of blood every 20 days or so. But he’s fighting fit, doing very well academically and says that he wants to set up his own business later on”.
The boy’s father confirms this. “My son scored hundred in maths in grade 10 and 12, and went on to top his engineering entrance exam. Thalassemia may be a temporary impediment, but certainly not a deterrent”, he proudly says.
Not everyone is so fortunate though. Kiran Jagwani’s six–year–old son Kunal is waiting for his second transfusion in two days. Once a happy–go–lucky school–goer, Kunal now sits at home all the time as even a minor shove can hurt him badly. “We don’t have the money to afford the latest medicines,” says Kiran.