Prelate Encourages Umbilical Cord Blood Donations

June 13, 2009

Courtesy by:

CARDIFF, Wales, JUNE 12, 2009 ( The archbishop of Cardiff is encouraging people to donate the singularly useful umbilical cord blood after giving birth.

Archbishop Peter Smith is issuing this appeal on the occasion of World Blood Donor Day, celebrated on Sunday, the bishops’ conference of England and Wales reported.

The press release noted that “cord blood is rich in stem cells and is already being used to treat many different diseases including leukemia, sickle cell anemia and thalassemia.”

Researchers are “now finding more uses for blood donations taken from the umbilical cord at birth,” it added.

“Valuable cord blood can be extracted in a simple, safe procedure from the umbilical cord after birth, but currently most of this precious resource is discarded,” the statement affirmed.

The archbishop stated, “I encourage people to learn more about cord blood donation and for expectant mothers to consider donating umbilical cord blood after the birth of their child.”

He continued, “The birth of a child is a wonderful gift, and a donation of cord blood could help transform the lives of those who could benefit from the extracted stem cells.”

The statement explained that the “therapeutic use of cord blood stem cells raises no ethical problems, unlike the use of embryonic stem cells derived from human embryos.”

Chaos at Senate meet, but key decisions made

June 13, 2009

Courtesy by:

Chandigarh The Panjab University Senate met on Thursday and took a number of significant decisions, keeping in mind the interests of students and the university’s social responsibilities.

In its meeting before the beginning of the new academic session, the Senate approved the Gyan Jyoti scheme, under which a PU student can, besides paying the fee online, also deposit it with a State Bank of India branch anywhere in the country and send the receipt to the university.

Another path-breaking decision was taken regarding the reservation of a seat in every department for a patient of thalassemia. It also resolved to sponsor the education of thalassemic children admitted in PGIMER.

In another decision, the university extended a second chance to dropouts and also to those who could not complete the course after getting enrolled at PU and those who wish to improve their scores. Availing of this opportunity, students can complete their degrees from the point where they had left. They will have to follow the present syllabus, though.

Besides, there are plans in the offing to organise another ‘Degree Mela’ where students of the university can come and collect their degrees. The decision aims to clear the pile of unclaimed degrees lying in the university.

Giving its nod to a semester system for postgraduate courses, the Senate also decided to introduce it to other courses too. Members from the affiliated colleges, however, expressed discontent when the House gave its approval allowing students to pursue dual degrees, which includes five-year integrated courses of BE-MBA and BA-BEd at the university.

PU may also no longer have to face water shortage, with Vice-Chancellor Professor R C Sobti announcing the grant of tertiary water supply for the university by the Chandigarh Administration. Now, handpumps can be installed anywhere on the campus.

The budget for the new academic session was also approved. Eyebrows were raised on a 77 per cent provision towards the salary of faculty, including travel allowance, while a meagre 0.14 per cent was allotted for scholarships. Fellow Gurmeet Singh raised objections and demanded that the provision be reconsidered.

The V-C further agreed to put all publications of the departments on its website for easy access by students and faculty members.

Heated arguments were, meanwhile, exchanged on the issue of filling vacant chairs. It was observed that since no scholar had ever applied, the varsity would decide on the incumbent for the chair and request him or her to take charge. The Senators also pressed V-C Sobti, along with PUTA, to pursue the issue of central status for the university.

Major decisions
* Gyan Jyoti Scheme approved
* One seat to be reserved for a thalassemia patient
* Dual degree allowed
* Students can complete their degree courses left incomplete and also improve scores
* A Degree Mela to give away unclaimed degrees
* Scholarship may be started in the Prime Minister’s name
* All PU publications to go online
* Semester system, credit system approved

Pre-marital tests are necessary

June 13, 2009

Courtesy by:

Would-be couples have been urged to take pre-marital test seriously as failure may cost them dear.

Speaking to Gulf Times yesterday about three inherited blood diseases – thalassemia, anaemia and sickle cell – Hamad Medical Corporation’s Hematology/Oncology unit head Dr Naima Ali al-Mulla emphasised the importance of genetic tests ahead of marriage.

“Due to lack of awareness and lack of adequate education among the public, especially in this region, many couples have gone into marriages that lead to birth of children having one or two of these serious diseases,” she said.

Thalassemia is a group of inherited diseases of the blood that affect a person’s ability to produce haemoglobin, resulting in anaemia – having low red blood cells while sickle cell disease is another inherited blood disorder that affects red blood cells.

“These diseases are a serious burden on the family’s finances and time as the affected children require frequent visits to the hospital for monitoring and assessment, especially for thalassemia children who need blood transfusion every two to three weeks,” said Dr al-Mulla.

She said for sickle cell patients who do not need blood transfusion, parents need to bring them to the hospital for regular vaccination to prevent them from infections.

Similarly for anaemic children, parents have to spend a fortune on iron chelators to rid the body of excess iron, preventing or delaying problems related to iron overload.

“If aspiring couples could strive to know their genetic make-up before marriage, it would go a long way in preventing them from having babies with these deadly diseases as well as save them the stress of taking care of the children,” she advised.

She said there are minor, intermedia and major thalassemia that are inherited.  “The disease is passed to children by parents who carry the mutated thalassemia gene. Most carriers lead completely normal, healthy lives,” explained Dr al-Mulla.

“A child of two carriers has a 25% chance of receiving two trait genes and developing the disease, and a 50% chance of being a thalassemia trait carrier,” she said.

Dr al-Mulla said the more severe form of the disease is thalassemia major, also called Cooley’s Anemia, which is a serious disease that requires regular blood transfusions and extensive medical care.

She explained that those with thalassemia major usually show symptoms within the first two years of life.

“They become pale and listless and have poor appetites. They grow slowly and often develop jaundice. Without treatment, the spleen, liver and heart soon become greatly enlarged. Bones become thin and brittle,” she said adding that heart failure and infections are the leading causes of death among children with untreated thalassemia major, she explained.

“The use of frequent blood transfusions and antibiotics has improved the outlook for children with thalassemia major. Frequent transfusions keep their haemoglobin levels near normal and prevent many of the complications of the disease,” she noted.

However, the doctor pointed out that repeated blood transfusions lead to iron overload – a build-up of iron in the body – that can damage the heart, liver and other organs.

“Drugs known as iron chelators can help rid the body of excess iron, preventing or delaying problems related to iron overload,” she said.
Though thalassemia is said to have no remedy, the good news according to Dr al-Mulla is the disease has been cured using bone marrow transplants, however, this treatment is possible only for a small minority of patients who have a suitable bone marrow donor, especially from their siblings.
But she said there is up to 20% mortality due to transplant if the bone marrow does not fully match.

To increase awareness about the diseases among the public, Dr al-Mulla said her department will organise an awareness and educational event next week at the Hamad General Hosiptal’s out-patients department and the Al Sadd Children’s Emergency.

Child patients at HMC have a day of fun

June 13, 2009

Courtesy by:

DOHA: Child patients at the Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) suffering from thalassemia and sickle cell diseases took a day out enjoying acrobats, magic shows, mascots, games and rides at the Jungle Zone in Hyatt Plaza Mall during the annual Thalassemia Day celebration yesterday.

Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder caused by an abnormal gene that affects a person’s ability to produce haemoglobin leading to anaemia. Sickle cell disease, on the other hand, is a blood disorder characterised by red blood cells that assume an abnormal, rigid, sickle shape.

“Through this activity, we want to make the children feel they’re not different, giving them a chance to play and enjoy themselves through interaction with other kids,” Fuad Shaqadan, Senior Marketing Executive at the Hyatt Plaza, one of the sponsors of the event said.

“HMC has nearly 60 patients suffering from thalassemia and around 70 who suffer from sickle cell disease,” Dr Naima Ali Al Mulla, Consultant Paediatrician and Head of Haematology and Oncology Unit at the Hamad Medical Corporation said.

To raise awareness regarding the chronic diseases, a session was also conducted among the parents and relatives of the patients and the general public.

“It is very important for people to be aware and educated regarding these diseases and for the child patients to be part of the community,” Dr. Al Mulla said.

In connection with raising public awareness, the Paediatric Haematology and Oncology Unit of the HMC will be conducting a campaign from today until Thursday at the Hamad Hospital and Al Sadd Paediatric clinic, which will include distribution of brochures to the public and other activities, Dr Al Mulla announced. Among other activities of the Unit geared toward their public awareness campaign are publications on the diseases; preparing video on the diseases, their causes and treatment; and producing CD on the project

Pims sets up Oncology unit at Children Hospital

June 7, 2009


Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) has established the first Paediatric Oncology Unit in Children Hospital PIMS, much-needed treatment facility in public sector hospitals of twin cities. Federal Minister of Health Aijaz Hussain Jakhrani was to inaugurate the Paediatric Oncology unit but he did not turn up and the Executive Director PIMS had to perform the opening ceremony.

Col Antoni Pennai Military Attach Italian Embassy, Nariko Prati wife of Italian Ambassador, ED PIMS Dr Altaf Hussain, Dr Lawrence Faulkner of cure2Children Foundation, Italy, Dr Nuzhat Yasmeen Assistant Professor Paediatric Oncology and Dr Sadaf Khalid Pakistan Branch Co-ordinator of Cure2Children Foundation were also present on the occasion.

The 8-beded unit is also has an isolation facility and a minor procedure room for chemotherapy and Bone Marrow aspiration therapeutic biopsies. While speaking at the inauguration of the POU and concluding session of the symposium on Bone Marrow in Thalassemia Children the ED PIMS Dr Altaf Hussain termed the initiative as another major achievement after start of the first Bone Marrow Transplant Unit.

He said PC-I of the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit in PIMS is being prepared and soon it would be submitted on priority basis so that the facility may be extended to the large population.

With reference to the concluding session of the symposium on Bone Marrow in Thalassemia Children, he said, Bone Marrow Transplant Unit is a beautiful example of Public Private Partnership. Pims and Cure2Children Foundation are providing free services of Bone marrow transplantation to poor patients who can not afford the expensive treatment.

While giving a brief background of the POU, Dr Nuzhat Yameen Assistant Professor Paediatric Oncology Unit said Children Hospital is providing Oncological services since 1985, however a separate oncology unit was a long desire.

The tumour registry project run by this unit started in November 2005 and till date 450 children were diagnosed with different cancer types and monthly 350 patients visit OPD visits and 220-day care Chemotherapy, she continued.

Children with common and rare cancer are treated in this unit and there is an excellent teamwork between Paediatric oncology and Paediatric surgeons. This is the only public sector cancer unit, which has a huge catchments area from Kabul to Lahore, she added.

She appreciated the efforts and commitment of Italian NGO Cure2Children Foundation for running the Bone Marrow transplant facility in children hospital. She opined that the two-bedded unit is insufficient to meet the large number of children suffering from the life threatening ailments like Thalassemia, Aplastic anaemia and leukaemia, which can only be treated by Bone Marrow Transplant.

She was of the view that this facility should be further expanded in future so more and more children can take befit of this facility. She requested the authorities concerned to approve PC-1 of the 16-bedded Bone Marrow Transplant unit and 25 bedded Paediatric Oncology Unit.

Bombay Blood Group detected in Thalassaemic patient

June 4, 2009


Thursday, June 04, 2009
By correspondent

The first case of a Thalassaemia patient with ‘Bombay Blood Group’ has been reported in Karachi. According to a PPI news report, the three-year-old daughter of Wajahat Ali is suffering from Thalassaemia and has a Bombay blood group.

Dr S. I. Abidi, Head of Pathology Department at Hamdard University Hospital told The News: “The Bombay Blood Groups is a very rare group throughout the world , and is present due to mutation in the genetic make up of the body.”

The problem with the Bombay Blood Group is that it cannot be transfused, even with the O positive blood group, which is the universal donor, he added.“There are only a few people with the particular blood type in Karachi, and if transfused with any other blood group, the blood cells start to break and results in a severe immune reaction,” he said.

He added that Thalassaemia is a big calamity for any individual, and enough donors are not available to support the blood supply of the patient, then it proves to be fatal. He appealed to citizens who possess Bombay Blood Group to step forward and help the three-year-old girl.

Blood supply dips during summer vacations

June 4, 2009


PUNE: It is the flip side of summer vacations. Twenty-two blood banks in the city face supply crunch for three months at a stretch starting April every year. The reason: their most prized blood donors – the student class – is out on vacation.

“The annual average blood requirement of the city is 1.5 lakh units approximately. Of this, 40 per cent is contributed by students. That’s the reason why blood banks in the city face crunch during summer vacations between April and June,” said Dilip Wani, national president of Jankalyan Chain of Blood Banks in India. Besides 40 per cent by students’ community, the rest is contributed by workers from the organised sector (25 per cent), political outfits (10 per cent) and the remaining 25 per cent is taken care of by social, voluntary and religious organisations, added Wani.

Sharing the view, Prashant Chaudhari, chairman of the blood bank of Poona Serological Institute, said, “Students make 40 per cent of the contribution to the annual requirement of the city. Hence, blood banks in the city have to adopt various ways to meet the shortfall during summer. The stress is more on motivating patients’ relatives to donate blood during this period.”

“This seasonal shortfall causes serious problems for Thalassemia patients and those who are suffering from blood cancer as well, who need constant transfusion,” said Wani.

Echoing same sentiment, blood transfusion officer of the Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital Sanjeev Ketkar said, “We rely on software industries in and around the city to fill up the gap. Similarly, we have formed voluntary platelet donor support group for patients of cancer and dengue.”

Ram Bangad, who runs the trust Raktache Nate’ with a base of 7,000 donors in the city, said, “It is true that summer vacation leads to crunch, but hospitals try to fill up the gap by conducting camps on industry premises. And it is not just students who go on vacation, even those hailing from other states go back home during this period, adding to the shortage.” There is need to approach people at the right time and place to motivate them to donate blood. Recently, we conducted a blood donation camp along with the Maheshwari community and the response was quite good, added Bangad.

Living on borrowed time

June 4, 2009


PUNAM Kumar was diagnosed with thalassemia — an inherited blood disorder — about 26 years ago and has to have blood transfusion every month to increase her haemoglobin count.

And it is only possible if there is enough blood at the Lautoka blood bank.

She is indebted to the 312 people who donated blood to her since diagnosed with the disease when she was four.

Ms Kumar said it was their selfless action which enabled her to beat the odds but she is appealing for more people to sacrifice their gift of life to help others who are in need of blood like her.

“I am alive today because of all those people whose blood I am using,” she said.

Ms Kumar has accepted that her medical condition will not take her far in life.

The Fiji Institute of Technology graduate had to quit her job because of her condition.

If she misses her monthly dose of blood she will become weak.

“I cannot afford to get injured because by the time I reach the hospital I will be dead.”

Western Blood Bank manager Jaynesh Narayan said the blood disorder which Ms Kumar and her sister inherited causes the body to make fewer healthy red blood cells and less haemoglobin than normal.

haemoglobin is an iron-rich protein in red blood cells which carries oxygen to all parts of the body and carbon dioxide from the body to the lungs.

A blood drive will be held at the bank of Baroda in Ba on Saturday from 8.30am.

Blood transfusion second highest cause for infection

June 4, 2009


Ahmedabad : Mitesh,12, undergoes at least 20 blood transfusions in a year for thalassemia. One such life-saving transfusion gave him AIDS. Mitesh was among the five thalassemic kids who contracted the deadly disease in July last year and now almost a year later their families are yet to come to terms with it an instance when borrowed life seems like a curse.

The latest figures of Ahmedabad Aids Control Society (AACS) reveals that blood transfusion happens to be second highest cause for HIV infection in Ahmedabad after sexual encounters. In just one and half years, 316 children below the age of 14 contracted HIV virus through blood transfusions alone. Nearly 2,719 children, in the same age group, had turned up for voluntary HIV tests in the same period after undergoing blood transfusions in the city fearing infection.

But, are there ways to prevent such tragedies? State health department was recently approached by blood banks and especially Red Cross society to help them set up a Nucleus Acid Test (NAT) unit at major dispensing centres. These tests can detect the HIV virus in the inactive state, before the blood is injected into the needy patients.

“One sure way is to make it mandatory for all blood transfusion centres to assign a certain group of trusted donors to thalassemic children. A child needs at least 20 transfusions in a year,” believes Jagruti foundation secretary Anil Khatri.

The danger lies when the donor donates blood during the three-month window period after having contracted HIV virus. No conventional test can detect the virus at this stage. When blood goes into cold storage, the virus is inactive and when finally injected into a recipient patient, it manages to complete the window period, and turns positive after sometime.

“Since these tests cost almost Rs 1,000, they burn a hole in the pocket for many. We have requested state government to formulate a system which is affordable,” says Mahesh Trivedi, Red Cross society secretary for Ahmedabad.

The only other option, however, is Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests that are costlier than NAT. Ahmedabad Civil Hospital has one unit which is yet to become operational.

“PCR is a costly affair. Generally, we avoid recommending PCR as it would become a liability for the government. Each tests costs close to Rs 2,000,” says a senior civil hospital doctor.\

West Bengal blood banks run dry due to polls

June 4, 2009


Kolkata, June 2 (IANS) It’s the flip side of India’s month-long general elections. Blood banks in West Bengal are facing acute shortage as social clubs, organisations and political parties were too busy with the polls to organise donation camps.

The summer months are any way a lean period for organising donation camps due to scorching heat, but this year it has become worse due to the polls, said Apurva Ghosh, general secretary of the West Bengal Voluntary Blood Donors’ Forum.

Over 100 blood banks, of which 58 are state-run, have failed to meet the average requirement of blood units, particularly affecting thalassemia and blood cancer patients who need regular blood transfusion.

“The situation is bad as far as the stock of blood units is concerned. The social organisations and clubs were mostly busy making arrangements for different political parties during the polls. They also avoided holding any camp due to the searing heat,” Ghosh told IANS.

The state needs around 750,000 units of blood per year, which is more or less achieved at other times through cumulative efforts of state-run and private blood banks.

The average requirement of blood units in the state varies from 50,000 to 60,000 units per month. Of this, 60 percent is used in Kolkata.

In 2008, the total collection of blood units was around 710,000.

“We could get less than 45 percent of the total monthly requirement during April-May this year. The number of donors has fallen significantly,” Ghosh said.

With most of the NGOs and clubs having some political affiliation or the other, all were involved in campaigning.

“No one takes interest in organising any blood donation camp during summer. We’re finding it really difficult to meet the regular demand of blood units,” said an official of the Central Blood Bank in Maniktala.

In West Bengal, the crisis for blood banks usually surfaces twice a year – in summer and during the festive season. In these four months (April-May and September-October), the state faces a total shortage of around 95,000 units.

“We have also intimated the Election Commission about this blood shortage during the elections, as most of the polls in the state take place during summer. West Bengal Chief Electoral Officer Debashis Sen has promised us that he would write a letter to the Central Election Commission to consider this problem next time during elections,” Ghosh said.

(Soudhriti Bhabani can be contacted at

%d bloggers like this: