Thalassemia a Major Public Health Issue in UAE, Says Expert

November 30, 2009

Courtesy by:

DUBAI — Thalassemia is a major public health issue in the UAE, which affects so many families at social, medical and psychological levels, says Dr Erol Baysal, head of Molecular Genetics Unit at the Genetic and Thalassemia Centre 
in Dubai.

One in 12 persons in the UAE is said to be thalassemia carrier. And the centre is the only facility in the country that conducts highly specialised tests to detect traits of thalassemia and offer counselling services to patients and their physicians to deal with the emerging results of the tests.

A total of 10,000 people have undergone premarital tests at the centre since the launch of the service in 2005.

When the UAE government made premarital tests mandatory for legalisation of marriages in the country in 2006, health officials said the main aim of the legislation was to protect the country from having children with different types of hereditary diseases, especially thalassemia which has a high prevalence among UAE nationals due to consanguineous marriages.

Dr Baysal feels the numbers of tests carried out are not to be underestimated. “The premarital screening programme is the most important part of our preventive campaign against thalassemia and these tests entail couples, most of whom are young nationals planning to get married,” he said.

“You cannot have a successful preventive programme without prenatal diagnosis which is the new approach to identify the genetic makeup of a foetus and its chances of being a thalassemia carrier or patient.”

As in the case of every autosomal disease, there is a 25 per cent chance for the child of thalassemia carrier parents to become affected. Another 50 per cent of them could be carriers and the rest could be unaffected, normal children.

This principle has been largely found to be correct in the number of cases diagnosed through prenatal tests, as 28 positive cases have been detected in the 115 cases, said Dr Mahmoud Taleb Al Ali, director of the Genetic Centre.

“The benefit of the test lies not only in early detection of the disease in 25 per cent of cases and helping to initiate early treatment,” said Dr Al Ali.

“It also helps 75 per cent of mothers to have social and financial relief by knowing that they will not have an affected child. Once the test is done, those women do not have to basically suffer for nine months thinking that their babies would be affected. That trauma can also be avoided,” he pointed out.

“If the genetic finding tells us that the baby may not require blood transfusion, you are also saving a life from blood transfusion and related complications,” noted Dr Baysal.

Three specialised labs at the centre – one for DNA analysis, another for cytogenetic tests and the third for analysing patients according to their metabolic features – are run by highly trained experts who conduct genetic tests by examining the sub-atomic levels of genes that cause hereditary diseases.

The genotype analysis, which finds out the genetic mutation that causes a disorder and its physical manifestation among patients, helps in determining the specific type of mutations for different types of thalassemia.

Dr Al Ali said the centre is the only facility in the GCC that carries out prenatal genetic test. “We also have the unique distinction of delivering test results on the same day. There are a very few labs in the world which release reports in 24 hours.”

He said the lab results and genetic information passed on to the treating physicians help the latter take a better and speedy decision regarding patient’s treatment.

The doctors said the government could save millions of dirhams by conducting the prenatal tests locally.

“One will have to spend at least Dh100,000 for getting this test done abroad. This can only go high if there are any associated complications. In that case, when you consider the fact that 50 per cent of our patients are UAE nationals, we can say that the government could save at least Dh6 million in two years by offering the service here in Dubai,” said Dr Al Ali.

Dr Baysal said the centre’s goal is to provide the service to every expecting mother who is at risk of delivering a child with thalassemia.

Bid to hike voluntary blood donation

November 30, 2009

Courtesy by: timesofindia

JAIPUR: Rajasthan mainly depends upon replacement donors to meet blood requirement for transfusion. However efforts are being made at government

and individual levels to improve the participation of voluntary donors. The Swasthya Kalyan Blood Bank and Thalassemia Research Center released a reference guide for voluntary blood donation on Saturday.

The guide has specifically been targeted to the role of non-government organization. “A better understanding of the blood donation process and importance of voluntary donation will help these organisations to convince more people to come forward for this noble cause,” said Dr S S Agarwal. Doctors at the blood bank said under pressure of replacement blood donation at times even unsuitable people come forward to donate and practices like professional donors increase. As there are no way to produce blood, voluntary donation must be increased.

Wal-Mart, Home Depot, American Legion to host blood drives in Flemington

November 30, 2009

Courtesy by:

New Jersey Blood Services this morning announced three blood drives planned next month in Flemington, Hunterdon County.

The blood drives are scheduled at the following times, dates and locations.
8:15 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. Dec. 19 at Home Depot, 244 Highway Route 202
10:45 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Dec. 19 at Wal-Mart, 150 Route 31 South
2:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. Dec. 28 at American Legion Post 159, 41 Route 31

NJBS, a division of the New York Blood Center, reminds the community that there are children and adults battling illnesses that require frequent blood transfusion. Among these illnesses are leukemia and other forms of cancer, thalassemia and aplastic anemia, sickle cell disease and hemophilia.

Blood donation is particularly important during winter months, when blood supplies diminish while need remains the same, according to a news release from New Jersey Blood Services.

To make a donation appointment or for more information, call 800-933-2566 or visit

Drops of life drive is a roaring success

November 30, 2009

Courtesy by:

Mumbai: The blood donation drive across various locations in the city launched by DNA along with NGO Think Foundation has been a great success. Within two hours, 52 people donated blood at the Oberoi Mall camp.

The drive will go on till December 6. “I feel satisfied. It’s because instead of merely talking about paying tribute to 26/11 martyrs, I have actually done something concrete by donating blood today,” said Sayali Chavan, a student of Ruia College.

The blood donation camp was organised at five other locations in Mumbai. Even those who were sceptical about donating blood in the camp came forward and contributed. Swapnil Adhatrao, a BPO worker, came to the camp with his two friends. He said, “I dislike pain caused by the syringe, but I understand the importance of blood donation, so I have come to contribute. I want to help those killed in the attacks, but my financial condition is not good. So I thought in this way I can do my bit.”

Donation drive caught on after noon at all five locations in Mumbai. Professionals from different blood banks had come to help donors. “The idea was to purvey enough amount of blood to banks and create a voluntary culture of blood donation in our city,” said Vinay Shetty, founder of Think Foundation.

Vinay added, “Not just accident and mishap victims, but even thalassemia patients require blood at short notice. Moreover a number of thalassemia patients need blood every fortnight and most of them are children.”

Pritika Gyanchandani came to mall to shop but volunteered to donate blood. “I thought I will feel dizzy after donating blood, but there is no such feeling,” said Pritika.

Stem cell bank gets harvesting equipment

November 30, 2009

Courtesy by:

CHENNAI: A city-based stem cell bank on Wednesday urged the Rotary Foundation to add stem cells to the bouquet of projects it runs at the national level. Dr Saranya Narayan, co-founder and medical director of Jeevan Blood Bank and Research Centre, made the request after receiving a stem cell harvesting equipment that was donated by the Rotary Club of Madras East, along with RI District 3230, Rotary Foundation and Rotary Club of Makati Ayala. The equipment, costing about Rs 25 lakh, will be used to recover stem cells from cord blood donated to Jeevan’s stem cell bank.

With 42,000 registered childbirths everyday, India can contribute substantially towards the cure of blood and blood-related diseases through stem cells, Dr Narayan said. Stem cells, she said, could be used to treat both thalassemia and leukemia.

Speaking on the club’s anti-polio efforts, Rotarian W Anand, governor, RI District 3230, said the disease could be eradicated in India in three years, with efforts by both the Rotary Foundation and the Indian government.

Recalling the Rotary Foundation’s global role in the eradication of polio, Anand said serious efforts should be made to make India polio-free.

BGN 16 million envisaged for rare diseases treatment in 2010

November 26, 2009

Courtesy by:

Medicines for rare disease treatment that the Ministry of Healthcare covers will not ne decreased in 2010, press centre of the Ministry announced. BGN 16 million are the allotted funds for medication of rare diseased in 2010. The funds would be spent for medicines for 11 diagnoses. For Mucoviscidosis disease are envisaged three medicines, for first time medicine for Fabry disease is secured as well as there is new medicine for thalassemia disease.

Shahbaz announces to bear medical expenses of student

November 26, 2009

Courtesy by:

LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif Sunday announced to bear the medical expenses of a female student suffering from Thalassemia.

The Chief Minister made the announcement while addressing a ceremony of award distribution among students who secured top positions in the intermediate examination.

During the ceremony a female student told the Chief Minister about her health condition and the financial constraints of her parents. She said she was suffering from Thalassemia and that Rs30,000 have to be spent on her medical treatment per month.

While receiving the award from the Chief Minister, the female student asked him for admission at a private university. She said her father is a surveyor and earns a limited salary.

On this, Shahbaz Sharif announced to bear all her medical and educational expenses.

6th National Thalassaemia Conference and Workshops

November 25, 2009

Thalassaemia Federation of Pakistan (TFP) is pleased to announce that the 6th National Thalassaemia Conference and Workshops will be organized from 12th to 13th of Dec, 2009 in Mirpur Azad Kashmir.

All TFP member societies, individuals and organizations are invited to participate in this conference.

In this regard, please revert to the following:

1) Federation will sponsor three individuals from each TFP member society and they will include 01 Patient, 01 Parent and 01 Representative of your society. It is requested to send those participants who have not previously attended the conference so that more and more people are provided the opportunity to participate in the conference. Deadline for conference registration is Dec 5, 2009.

2) Economy fare Train/Bus along with accommodation will be given by Federation.

3) TFP will provide accommodation on triple sharing basis (one room per society) for two nights.

4) TFP has decided to honor extraordinary Thalassaemic children. In this regard, please send us the name of one Thalassaemic child from your society, who have done exceptionally well in academic, sport or extracurricular activities by November 24, 2009. This record will be presented to a committee who will finalize the names of the children to be honored.

5) Federation also plans to publish a news letter which will be distributed in the conference and for that we request you to kindly email a write-up of your society’s activities since the last Thalassaemia conference in Karachi by 24th Nov, 2009.

6) Societies that have not submitted their TFP membership dues up to 2009, are requested to submit the dues before 24 Nov 2009. Please note that societies not paying their memberships dues by the given date will not be provided the above mentioned services.

7) Non members of TFP, kindly email or call TFP office for more information on how to attend the conference.


Celebrating 100 Bone Marrow Transplants

November 23, 2009
Celebrating 100 Bone Marrow Transplants - Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Celebrating 100 Bone Marrow Transplants - Tuesday, November 24, 2009

B+ve to A+ve, he beats thalassemia

November 22, 2009

Courtesy by: timesofindia

AHMEDABAD: Exactly 49 days ago, Harshil Nanda was a severely ill thalassemic patient with B positive blood group. Today, he is a healthy infant with A positive blood group and a confirmed evidence of how stem cell transplant can cure thalassemia.

The change in his blood group is in fact proof that Harshil’s procedure, the country’s second stem cell transplant from umbilical cord blood of a stranger child received from a private bank, has worked.

Harshil’s rapid recovery has cheered stem cell transplant surgeons at Gujarat Cancer Research Institute (GCRI) where the first such transplant was performed nearly a year ago.

“This means that unrelated umbilical stem cell transplant can be termed as an established treatment. As they say, first success could be luck but second is science,” said director of bone marrow transplant department at GCRI Dr Sandip A Shah. The transplant was assisted by Dr Kinnari Patel and Dr Kamlesh Shah.

The first success story was of Rishi, a thalassemic major child from Kutch, who was cured by umbilical cord stem cells transplanted from an unrelated donor as he did not have siblings. Harshil is also the only child of his parents.

“While it took three months in Rishi for the donor blood cells to completely take over and change his blood group, Harshil has recovered within two months,” said Dr Shah.

For children without siblings and suffering from thalassemia, aplastic anaemia and similar blood problems, this is good news. The success rate of such transplants is 70 per cent.

Doctors are now poised to perform a third unrelated umbilical cord stem cell transplant. “The third patient is a girl called Zeel, who has got Rs 10 lakh as donation from Bollywood star Ajay Devgan to perform the transplant,” said Dr Shah.

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