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Hoa Binh struggles with blood disorder

Update: August, 13/2014 - 08:34
A genetic blood disorder, Thalassaemia, has seriously affected the quality of life for more than a fifth of ethnic people in the northern province of Hoa Binh.— Illustrative image/ Photo drugdiscovery.com

HOA BINH (VNS) — A genetic blood disorder, Thalassaemia, has seriously affected the quality of life for more than a fifth of ethnic people in the northern province of Hoa Binh.

Thalassaemia, an inherited disorder, prevents the body from making enough of a protein called haemoglobin, an important part of red blood cells. When there isn't enough, the cells don't function properly and do not live as long, so there are fewer healthy in the bloodstream.

This also means not enough oxygen is being delivered to the body's other cells, which may make a person feel tired, weak or short of breath. This is called anaemia. Blood transfusions are often necessary to balance the red and white cells.

People with Thalassaemia may have mild or severe forms of the disease. Severe anaemia can damage organs and even lead to death.

Hoa Binh General Hospital's Paediatrics Ward has 10 beds for patients needing transfusions, but there are always 15 to 20 patients waiting for their turn.

Bui Van Hoan, who lives in Yen Nghiep Commune, Lac Son District, said his 13-year-old son needed blood transfusion since he was two. Twice a month Hoan takes him to hospital for a blood transfusion.

On average, monthly treatment costs a patient about VND8 million (US$380).

Dinh Thi Dieu, head of the ward, said treating the disease was not easy because sometimes the hospital lacked blood and patients had to wait for long periods for a transfusion. This often meant they did not receive enough blood.

On average, each patient need four to six units of blood six to eight times a year. Each unit of blood is 250ml-350ml. Patients with advanced thalassaemia need to visit a hospital once a month. The amount of blood for thalassaemia patients makes up 60 per cent of the total blood used in the ward.

If patients receive good treatment, they can live for 20 years. If the treatment is inadequate, 10 years is more likely.

To try and control the disease, the Hoa Binh Province People's Committee asked medical staff to test more blood so that proper treatment could be given.

Hoa Binh Hospital now wants to set up a special thalassaemia centre for diagnosing the disease.

Nguyen Thi Minh Phuong, director of the provincial Department of Population and Family Planning, said that while there were still no cures for the disease, it could be prevented by locating people with the gene and advising them not to get married. — VNS

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