I know now that……
Even though one could have 2 or 3 healthy children (thanks to the almighty), their next child could be Thalassemic (god forbid) since both the parents could be silent carriers of this killer disease. Carriers show absolutely no symptoms and the presence of this treacherous gene can be detected only through a blood test. Good news is that the test is available at all medical centers and is covered by most insurance companies.
Being from this part of the world makes us more vulnerable to this disease as majority of the patients hail from Asia, Middle east and the Mediterranean. In the UAE, you have an estimated number of 1 million carriers, which is almost 12% of the population.
What happens if your child has Thalassemia?
Well, you start noticing it when the baby starts showing symptoms of anemia and also disinterest towards being fed. If he or she is diagnosed with the disease, then the child will have to be given blood transfusions every two weeks for the rest of his life. He will also have to be given injections daily to offset the excess iron that enters the body due to the transfusions. The only way to cure the child is to get a bone marrow transplant. The chances of finding a matching donor are very bleak and the costs associated with this process are phenomenal and prohibitive. So 99% of the patients choose to continue with the painful and frustrating ordeal of needles and pain.
What should you do if you do a test and find that you are indeed a carrier?
Test your spouse as well and if he/she is also tested positive, think a million times before planning for a baby. Yes!!! your baby might turn out to be unaffected though the chances of the same are very little. Note that there are no other ways to prevent this disease. If either of you are carriers, you should also test your children. If they are above 2, they may have been spared of this disease. But it is better to be aware early in order to take extra precautions, when they plan to marry and start a family.
What can all of us do?
Spread the awareness. UAE has a Thalassemia center which offers free treatment and counseling to patients and parents. Today Dr. Essam from this centre shared with us some heart wrenching stories about these children and their plight. Some of them were even deserted by their parents since they couldn’t endure the prospect of living with this challenge. In so many other countries of this world, kids die every day because they don’t either receive treatment or blood. So in addition to spreading awareness, you can…
Organize a group and Call 04-2193794 and they will send their bus to you. Increase the longevity of at least one innocent child by sharing a few drops of your blood.
Donate money to the centre in the UAE or in your respective countries. Delay the purchase of that new phone by a few weeks. Cut down a few days from your holiday package and you will gift some innocent souls precious extra hours, days or even years…. Make your money matter.
Go ahead….. do something………Here is a chance for you to make a difference!!!!!
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