Talasemia adalah kecacatan genetik yang paling biasa didapati, dengan kira-kira 250 juta orang, 4.5 peratus daripada penduduk dunia adalah pengidap yang menghadapi ancaman maut. Pada 2010, Malaysia merekodkan 4,768 orang pesakit talasemia yang memerlukan pemindahan darah yang kerap. Manakala 5% daripada penduduknya adalah pembawa.



What is Thalassaemia Major?

What is Thalassemia Major

The severe form of Thalassemia, Thalassemia major, occurs when a child inherits two mutated genes, one from each parent. Children born with Thalassemia major usually develop the symptoms of severe anemia within the first year of life. They lack the ability to produce normal adult hemoglobin (red blood cells). Children with Thalassemia major are so chronically fatigued they fail to thrive and do not grow normally. Left untreated, this disorder will cause bone deformities and eventually will lead to death within the first decade of the child’s life.

The only treatments that are provided to patients are regular transfusions of red blood cells. Thalassemia major patients require transfusions of red blood cells, every 4 to 6 weeks depending on the individual’s consumption of the infused cells. The complication that results from constant blood transfusions is iron overload, also known as secondary hemochromatosis. Once iron is stored in the organs, it will eventually lead to organ failure and will lead to death.

Iron is a component of hemoglobin, essential to the body, but once red blood cells break down the excess iron cannot be removed, resulting in the absorption of too much iron in the body. It is necessary that this excess iron be removed because it stores in the vital organs of the body, such as the heart and liver. Fortunately, a drug called Desferrioxamine (Desferal) is designed to remove the excess iron from the thalassemic patient.

Although, Desferal has significantly changed the prognosis of patients with Thalassemia major, many of the patients find the nightly 10-12 hour infusions of Desferal tedious, have difficulty with compliance, and find the pump-injected medication painful. Currently, this is the only treatment available to Thalassemia patients, a cure needs to be found.



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