Blood Hard to Come by for Thalassemia Patients

With blood banks in the state closing the door on thalassemia patients, they are struggling to survive. Thalassemia is a bleeding disorder which is caused by absence of red blood cells (RBC) in the body.

Published: 09th July 2014 08:27 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th July 2014 08:27 AM   |  A+A-

VIJAYAWADA: With blood banks in the state closing the door on thalassemia patients, they are struggling to survive. Thalassemia is a bleeding disorder which is caused by absence of red blood cells (RBC) in the body.

The life expectancy rate of thalassemia patients, with proper medication, is around 35 - 40 years. Dr P Ravi Kumar of the city says, “Regular blood transfusion and medical check-ups can increase the life span of a thalassemia patient.

The monthly medication cost is estimated to be over `10,000.” P Ratnam, father of P Nessi, who has been suffering from thalassemia for the past seven years, said he had spent around `7 lakh on his son’s treatment. “There are times when I had to skip meals to save money for my son’s treatment.” he added.

According to the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, no cost should be charged for issue of blood/ blood components to cases of thalassemia, who require repeated blood transfusion. Blood banks are also supposed to display a notice which says ‘blood available for thalassemia patients.’ However, the blood banks are violating the norms, according to V Sharat Babu, Chairman of Support and Awareness for People with Thalassemia (SAPTHA) foundation said.

“Most of the blood banks don’t offer blood to thalassemia patients. Some blood banks, which offer blood occasionally, delay the process and as a result patients suffer from several side effects, “he added. He stressed the need to conduct blood donation camps to accommodate more number of patients.

Health minister Kamineni Srinivas recently promised that the government would take measures to support thalassemia patients. He also directed district collector M Raghunandan Rao to keep a watch on the blood banks that are violating the norms. Nearly 3,000 people in the state are affected by this disorder, most of whom are children.

Blood transfusion every 20 days is mandatory for such patients, as there is no cure for this disorder. Dr Madan Mohan, a member of the Red Cross Society, said due to lack of adequate care centres in the state, most of the patients in the state rely on treatment centres in Vijayawada and as a result blood banks are finding it hard to meet the demands. He also stressed the need to spread awareness and added that the Red Cross Society will provide assistance to thalassemia patients.

TVSN Sastry, additional district medical health officer, said, “We have received complaints from thalassemia patients and the sub-collector has directed me to look into the issue. We are yet to receive the documents. Once they are available further investigation will be conducted into the issue.”

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