Kolkata gets a state-of-the art thalassemia clinic that would cater dedicatedly to patients suffering from this blood disorder. Launched by Apollo Gleneagles Cancer Hospital (AGCH), the comprehensive thalassemia clinic will adopt a multi-disciplinary approach to the treatment of thalassemia. India with about 40 million carriers is being tagged as the thalassemia capital of the world where 10,000 new cases are reported annually. According to a study supported by Indian Council of Medical Research, the annual blood transfusion burden is stated to be two million units of packed red blood cells and the annual spending on thalassemia treatment is pegged at around Rs 15,000 crores each year.
“If two beta thalassemia carriers marry each other there is a 25% chance of the baby being thalassemia major. Hence preventive health check up is the need hour as it is crucial that two carriers do not get into marriage,” said Dr Soumya Bhattacharya, senior haemato-oncologist at AGCH Kolkata.
The comprehensive thalassemia clinic will have facilities like – pre-marital checkup, pre-natal screening using HPLC (High-performance liquid chromatography) machine, antigen matched blood transfusion and bone marrow transplant (BMT).
“The main cure available today for thalassemia is BMT. With newer drugs used during the transplant has reduced the risks of BMT related complications with cure rate more than 80%,” said Dr Shilpa Bhartia, haemato-oncologist at AGCH,
In case no screening was done before birth and a child is diagnosed with thalassemia, proper management can help the child to live a near normal life. This would include regular blood transfusions the quality of which is very important. AGCH has NAT tested antigen matched blood that reduces the risk of viral infection and development of antibodies.
Dr Anupam Chakrapani, haemato-oncologist and BMT programme coordinator at the unit said, “Thalassemia is one of those diseases that can be easily prevented, but often due to socio-cultural barriers and stigma associated with it, the progress on preventing births of thalassemia major children is slow. Parents generally do not wish to reveal the carrier status of their children because they fear difficulty in getting them married but it is important that we change this mindset.”
Source: Times of India