What is Thalassaemia?
Thalassemia’s are inherited blood disorders characterized by decreased haemoglobin production. causing chronic anaemia. Thalassemia is an inherited (i.e., passed from parents to children through genes) blood disorder caused when the body doesn’t make enough of a protein called haemoglobin, an important part of red blood cells. When there isn’t enough haemoglobin, the body’s red blood cells don’t function properly and they last shorter periods of time, so there are fewer healthy red blood cells traveling in the bloodstream.
Red blood cells carry oxygen to all the cells of the body. Oxygen is a sort of food that cells use to function. When there are not enough healthy red blood cells, there is also not enough oxygen delivered to all the other cells of the body, which may cause a person to feel tired, weak or short of breath. This is a condition called anaemia. People with thalassemia may have mild or severe anaemia. Severe anaemia can damage organs and lead to death.
There are two main types of thalassaemia
Each one of the above-mentioned types has many different subtypes. Therefore, both α- and β- thalassaemia include the following three forms:
Thalassemia affects approximately 1 in 2,500. The prevalence of each type of thalassemia also varies depending on ethnicity.
Symptoms of Thalassaemia
NOTE: In the most severe forms of beta thalassaemia the anaemia is so severe that unless it is corrected regularly by blood transfusion the patient will die early in life (mostly in infancy). The condition is then known as transfusion dependent thalassaemia or TDT.