More couples going for pre-marital thalassemia test (May 8 is World Thalassemia Day)

New Delhi, May 8 (IANS) Anshu Gupta, a school teacher, ensured her fiance got himself tested for thalassemia before tying the knot so that their children don’t suffer from the hereditary blood disorder. Doctors say many couples are now coming forward to undergo pre-marital thalassemia test.

According to doctors, more than 10,000 thalassemic children are born in India every year and it can be easily prevented through greater awareness.

May 8 is globally celebrated as ‘International Thalassemia Day’.

“It is an inherited blood disorder in which the patients need to undergo regular blood transfusion since their body cannot produce enough haemoglobin,” Dharma Choudhary, senior consultant and director hemato-oncology and bone marrow transplant, B.L.K. Super Specialty Hospital, told IANS.

Choudhary said that owing to spread of awareness many couples do come for thalassemia test but more needs to be done.

“It is important that everyone before marriage should go for thalassemia test to ensure that both the partners don’t suffer from the genetic disorder. In case both the partners are suffering from it, chances to have a child suffering from thalassemia major (chronic) increases,” he said.

The disorder which requires regular blood transfusion can be cured if the patient gets the right donor for a bone marrow transplant. However, the success rate remains abysmally low at three to five percent.

Ajay Rathore, who is suffering from the disorder, met his life partner on a matrimonial site and asked her to undergo thalassemia test.

“Half-a-dozen girls rejected my demand to undergo a test but finally my wife accepted it. We got married as her family did not have any problem with me being thalassemic. I am blessed with a son, who is normal,” said Rathore, who works in a multinational company in Noida.

Gupta says it is necessary that couples undergo thalassemia test to be on the safer side.

“There was a case in my neighbourhood where the man’s family hid his thalassemic status and the girl was also suffering from the disorder. They had to go for abortion as they came to know that the child in the womb was thalassemia major,” said the 30-year-old.

Manish Gogoi, programme officer, National Thalassemia Welfare Society says people are slowly getting aware about the disorder and every pregnant woman should be tested for thalassemia.

“We have been running several campaigns to make people aware about it. Awareness is a key to fight against the disorder. We organise regular testing camps and many youngsters turn up for it,” Gogoi told IANS.

Gogoi also appealed to people to come forward for blood donation as thalassemic patients have to undergo blood transfusion regularly.

“In our camps we see that couples are coming forward for the test. It is indeed heartening. I feel happy that young people are now more aware about it and come forward for the tests,” Gogoi added.

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