Times of India
16 May 2011
Frequent blood transfusion is a must for thalassemia patients. But the downside of this process is that it results in accumulation of iron in various organs of a patient and may result in their failure.
Asunra, Desirox and Deferijet are three available oral drugs to save patients from iron overload.
However, depending on a patient’s requirement, they cost anywhere between 2,000 and 5,000 per month. While a few families manage to get help from NGOs, many others continue to suffer.
Early this year, the state had announced that the drug which helps removal of excessive iron would be made available free of cost so that the patients can lead a normal life. However, till date not a single patient has received any benefit as the central government’s approval to the proposal is pending.
Currently, there are 1,200 persons registered for blood transfusion in Mumbai and about 5,000 are registered across the state.
"The doctors have told me that the drug is important for my children but there is no way I can afford it," said Ulhasnagar resident Sunita Singh. Her son Krishna, 3, and daughter Deepa, 19, are thalassemia patients.
Sunita’s husband is a leprosy patient and bed ridden. "I earn Rs 1,500 to 2,000 per month. I have been seeking monetary help from people so that my children could get the necessary medicine," she added.
According to Vinay Shetty of Think foundation, an NGO working for thalassemia patients, "The oral drugs are the cheapest options available. But patients face the risk of organ failure if the drugs are not taken," said Shetty.
State health minister Suresh Shetty said, "We have sent them the details so that the medicines can be distributed under the National Health Mission Programme free of cost. We are awaiting their reply."
What is Thalassemia
Thalassemia is a genetic disease. It causes the body to synthesize an abnormal form of haemoglobin - a protein molecule in the red blood cells that carries oxygen. This disorder makes a person anaemic.