FAiTh in TIF Magazine =)

January 17, 2011

Alhamdulillah FAiTh [Fight Against Thalassemia] is gaining its place in people’s life, heart, mind and now it secured its position in TIF [Thalassemia International Federation] Magazine 🙂

FAiTh featured in TIF Mag

FAiTh featured in TIF Mag

Please click on image for larger view

Ministry launches drive to combat thalassemia

January 16, 2011


Do you carry thalassemia gene? The Union health ministry will soon find out. Recognizing the tremendous burden of thalassemia, the ministry has decided to launch a national programme to combat this genetic blood disorder.

In thalassemia patients, the bone marrow does not form normal red blood cells. Hence, the patient’s survival depends on repeated blood transfusions throughout life — once in every 2-4 weeks.

Union health secretary K Chandramouli told TOI that the urgency of such a national programme was unanimously accepted by state health ministers during a recent meeting in Hyderabad.

“The modalities of the programme will now be worked out in consultation with experts,” Chandramouli said. He added, “The programme will look at testing blood samples of adults before they marry. If two adults with the thalassemia gene marry, chances are very high of their baby being born with the disease. Since, majority can’t afford its treatment, we will soon start a pilot project.”

Tracking thalassemia

January 16, 2011


What took off as a class project for these six students of Wilson College is no more the same

It was a just a class project, with all its hesitations and disappointments, that turned big for these 20-year-olds. For they helped spread awareness about thalassemia, a blood-related disorder, among 600 people in just two days.

The six students of Wilson College had picked up the disorder for their final-year contemporary issues project. Nehal Tiwari, one of them, says, “We wanted to target youngsters who would probably be thinking of starting a family. We contacted five-six call centres that usually have a young workforce and sought permission to meet workers. We were denied permission.” Adds Manish Usapkar, “We were shoved off. One man in Thane said we should not teach wrong stuff to youngsters. Some people think that thalassemia is a sexually-transmitted disease.”

Royce Noronha says, “We had prepared a streetplay on the issue, but when we enacted it at Marine Drive not even one passerby stopped to see that.” Adds Nisha Thomas, “Also, the word thalassemia itself is so new, that to just make the person aware about such a thing is challenging.”

But then, the campaign took off. A group member, Leron D’Souza, created a video and put it on YouTube and Facebook, which received over 800 hits. They did a two-day drive too, wherein they spoke to people at Bandra Bandstand, Marine Drive, Girgaon Chowpatty and the like. “At Bandstand, we went behind barricades and enclosures where couples sit and talked to them,” says Royce. “In fact, some people actually thought we are talking about AIDS and HIV… We would move around with flexes on our necks, saying things such as “Are you feeling fit and fine”. Or hang a mirror around our necks and say this person could be a thalassemia patient.”

Nehal says they realised they needed to attract people’s attention. Manish adds, “We would be asked questions such as is thalassemia a planet or some country. People do not have any idea what it is. Once there was a doctor couple at Marine Drive who did not know about the disorder; they thought they did but had no clue about it.”

Aparna Nair says they used to join people jogging at Marine Drive in the morning just to talk to them. “We orgnanised innovate games like dart at a suburban college where nobody would even stop and listen to us. People would come and play and then we could talk about thalassemia.”

Manish says they did not initially believe in the concept. The ‘moment’ came when the group took out some thalassemia-affected children to MacDonalds for a treat. “I was told that there will be affected people aged 12 to 21, but I could not find any 21-year-old. These people have stunted growth and perhaps they do not look their age. Yet I was stunned how normal they look,” says Nisha.

“Once I saw a patient who was having blood transfusion, which is the only way they can stay alive; and here he was eating Kurkure and watching TV. Instead of feeling pity, I felt I should give them a well-deserving life,” adds Aparna.

For the group, thalassemia is now a life-long cause. “We will keep coming back to this issue through the NGO ‘Think Foundation’ that fights for this cause, says Manish.

Meera turns princess for Burj Khalifa wish

January 16, 2011


It was a dream-come-true for Meera, who suffers from Thalassemia but has a wishlist. Floating in like a princess, the five-year-old from Kalba had a day she, and all around her, would remember forever when she walked into Burj Khalia – the world’s tallest tower.

Treated like a true princess from her favourite fairy tale, Meera could fulfill her wish thanks to Make A Wish Foundation that takes care of children like her.

Surviving with regular blood transfusion since she was six months old, for which she is brought to Sharjah every three weeks, Meera will have lots to talk about over her visit to the world’s tallest tower.

In pain, most of the time, Meera had reasons to smile, laugh and be happy like the little princess in fairy tales and for once forget she would soon have to endure the blood transfusion procedure that could last up to seven hours at a time.

Her elated mother said: “Meera is the second child in our family. We have two other healthy kids, Mohammed aged 7 years and Mariya aged 4 years.”

Always wanting to be a Snow White or Cinderella, this trip to Dubai is special for Meera and her mother.

“She has a wide imagination. She is a very loving and caring kid. She is humble and she loves taking care of other kids, and she is very smart and intelligent. Despite her illness, she is very determined in such a young age to fight the disease and live a happy life. She is older than her age,” says her mother who is always there to take care of the little child.

“We surprised her at the hospital. She didn’t know that today she will live like a princess. A limousine picked her up, she wore a beautiful dress and crown. She distributed gifts to other kids at the Thalassemia Centre and she went atop Burj Khalifa, everything making her so happy.”

The foundation is chaired by Shaikha Shaikha bint Saif Al Nahyan, Chairman of Make A Wish Foundation and wife of Shaikh Sultan bin Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Consultant of the President.

In 2010, the foundation fulfilled the wishes of 180 children. Among them, 100 wishes were all fulfilled by Shaikh Sultan.

Dr Essam Dohair, Vice Chairman, Make A Wish Foundation in UAE said that the main aim of the foundation is to fulfill the wishes of children who suffer from life threatening disease and who are aged between 4 to 14 years.

Children suffering from life-threatening conditions such as cancer, thalassemia, serious disabilities, birth deformities are provided everything to fulfill their wishlist.

“We have direct orders from the Chairman to fulfill the wishes as soon as possible. This is so after a girl died before we were able to fulfill her wish. This made the Chairman very sad, and since then, we do our best to fulfill all the wishes quickly,” Dohair said.

He pointed out that the wishes they fulfill are not only for national, but also expatriate children.

“All the wishes which we fulfill fall under three main categories: 1. I want to see – where we take them to places such as Disney Land; 2. I want to own – where they want to obtain things like laptops or cameras; 3. I want to meet: where they want to meet the President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan or His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE’s Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, or His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chief of UAE’s Armed Forces and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.”

Ashmit, Veena to tour India, Pak together

January 16, 2011


They were a controversial couple on Bigg Boss Season 4 and made headlines for their public display of affection. Ashmit Patel and Veena Malik are in the news again. The two have decided to work together, but for a cause.

Ashmit will help Veena carry out awareness campaigns for her charity in Pakistan that works for thalassemia patients. The two will travel across India and Pakistan to bring awareness about the disease among the people.

A thalassemia minor himself, Ashmit confirmed the news, “We are indeed going to carry out this program. We also plan to provide monetary help to the patients, as the treatment is very expensive. The other details are yet to be worked out about this drive.”

We wish them all the best in their noble cause.

Severe shortage of A and O blood groups in Dubai

January 16, 2011


Al Wasl Hospital Blood Bank in Dubai is facing shortage and urgently require type A and O donors (both positive and negative). It is needed for kids suffering from thalassemia and cancer, as well as serious of traffic accidents victims.

When contacted, a staff member at the Blood Bank said that they have sent text messages to regular donors requesting them to come forward to donate blood.

“Blood Bank urgently requires type A and O. But all other blood types are also needed. We need large amount of blood to carry out blood transfusion for thalassemia patients. We have more than 40 thalassemia patients who need transfusion every three weeks.

“We supply blood to hospitals, and in case of accidents we must be prepared and have sufficient amount of blood to give to patients. This is a very serious issue and the lives of many depends on the availability of blood.”

The Blood Bank is open till 6pm every day to receive blood from donors. For further information, please call Al Wasl Hospital on 04 3241111.

However, Al Wasl as asked people not to call as that line may be busy but to come straight to the hospital and donate the blood.


Teen goes from wheelchair to walking in three weeks

January 16, 2011


Dick Clark is perhaps one of the most well known faces of stroke survival. Chances are you know someone and you probably think strokes only affect older people but they can happen at any age and about 200,00 happen to people under 65 each year.

It’s the leading cause of debilitating illness in this country but imagine being told as a teenager you’ll spend the rest of your life in a wheelchair.

Eighteen-year-old Ariadne Popma, of Michigan, was determined not to let that happen. A stroke paralyzed her left side two years ago, most likely caused by a blood disorder she has called beta thalassemia.

Electro-stimulation therapy to shock her muscles into working again didn’t work. She couldn’t feel her leg, let alone think about standing on it, until she came to Cleveland and met Dr. Jeffrey Bolek in the Cleveland Clinic’s Motor Control Program.

In three weeks, his therapy not only helped her stand, it helped her walk again. Unlike traditional therapies that electrically stimulate individual muscles, Dr. Bolek’s program forces Ariadne’s brain to tell her body what to do.

“If you can give success in one or two muscles, a lot of the other things fall into place,” Dr. Bolek says.

He also adds his method works faster which may be economical to the patient paying for healthcare. However, the therapy may not work for everyone.

It works as Ariadne walks on the treadmill and watches a monitor in front of her. Two moving lines let her know if she’s hitting her target.

But what keeps her going is the fact that her walking is powering a DVD player that shows a movie. It plays as long as she walks correctly.

“This one actually gives me feedback to use what I need so I can use my muscles accordingly to my brain,” Ariadne says.

The therapy isn’t for everyone but it also helped Ariadne regain control of her left arm. Enough that she can now shuffle cards.

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