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Medical Education

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What is thalassemia and beta thalassemia

Thalassemia

Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder. It is only transferred from parents to offspring. It is one of the most common genetic disorders worldwide. Hemoglobin is an iron-rich protein in red blood cells, carrying oxygen in all parts of the body. People with Thalassemia can have mild to severe anemia. Thalassemia occurs in high frequency in a broad belt extending from the Mediterranean basin, through the Middle East, Indian subcontinent, Burma and southeast Asia.

Beta-Thalassemia

Human beings have two beta and four alpha genes which are required to make protein chains. In beta thalassemia minor, the person has one abnormal beta gene which doesn’t affect their health, while in beta thalassemia major, both the beta genes are abnormal. Beta thalassemia major is a fatal condition inherited by the offspring if both the parents have beta thalassemia minor. The patient of beta thalassemia major becomes dependant on blood transfusions, suffering from severe anemia, jaundice, spleen and liver enlargement and malfunctioning and bone problems.

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Can I donate blood?

Yes! If you match the health and weight requirements of the World Health Organization, then of course you can. By donating one bottle of blood, you can save three lives.
Standards of blood donation as per WHO

  • No history of blood donation in the past 3-4 months.
  • No medical history of diabetes, heart disease, asthma, epilepsy, malaria, tuberculosis (TB), or typhoid.
  • Donor shouldn’t be a drug addict.
  • No history of vaccination
  • No medical history of jaundice in the past 1 year.
  • Not on medication since the last 48 hours.
    Normal BP and temperature.
  • Weight over 50kg, and age between 18-60 years.

Is there any harm for the blood donor?

No, because your RBCs have a lifespan of 120 days, and new blood cells are formed every 120 days from the bone marrow. So when you donate blood, the volume is automatically replenished after a few days.

What are the benefits for the blood donor?

Regular donors of blood have a lesser risk of heart diseases and heart attacks. They are kept up to date with their health status due to the medical checkups they go through before every donation, thus they can always take preventive action for any disease that emerges in their reports.