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Thalassemia comes from the word Thalassa means sea and -emia means blood, as this blood disorder was identified from the Mediterranean Sea in Italy or North Africa.
It is an inherited blood disorder in which the body produces an abnormal form of hemoglobin or oxygen carrying protein. Presence of wrong hemoglobin results in large scale destruction of red blood cell which leads to anemia. It occurs most frequently in Italian, Greek, middle eastern, south Asian and African ancestry.
Hemoglobin consists of 2 proteins alpha and beta proteins, both are required to form proper hemoglobin, hence there are 2 types of Thalassemia alpha and beta thalassemia.
-India is the thalassaemia capital of the world with 40 million carriers and over 1,00,000 thalassaemia majors under blood transfusion every month.
- Over 1,00,000 patients across the country die before they turn 20 due to lack of access to treatment.
- The first case of thalassaemia in India was reported in 1938.
- Every year 10,000 children with thalassaemia major are born in India.
(Sources: National Health Portal, World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)