Leading expert urges public to donate blood to save lives of Thalassemia, cancer patients

ISLAMABAD, Oct 23 (APP):Leading Health expert on Wednesday urged the authorities concerned to play their due role towards prevention of blood deficient diseases such as thalassemia and bone marrow cancer that could be averted through proper public awareness and more adequate diagnostic facilities.

He, therefore, put great emphasis on public to donate blood for patients suffering from thalassemia and bone marrow cancer and thus save their lives.

Head of Department National Institute of Blood Diseases and Bone Marrow Transplantation (NIBD) Dr Tahir Sultan Shamsi talking to private news channel said, thalassemia and bone marrow cancer patients have no substitute for blood and that is why they depend on other people to show their generosity and love for mankind by donating their blood regularly.

He said the federal government, Bait ul Mal and other provisional governments are already providing millions of rupees to the National Institute of Blood Diseases and Bone Marrow Transplantation (NIBD) in Karachi(NIBD) for bone marrow transplants on their deserving and needy patients.

Expert said though prevention is the long-term solution for management of thalassemia, bone marrow transplant remains the only curative treatment for those born with the disease.

He said every year children required bone marrow transplant and a majority of them died , adding, some types of diseases of the children living with thalassaemia and cancer are curable but their is dire need to give knowledge public to donate blood for these patients.

He said the poor and deserving patients are availing themselves of treatment facilities at PBM free of cost.

He explained Bone marrow cancer is a group of diseases that occur due to unchecked abnormal growth of body’s cells which spread later making the immune system so weak that it is impossible to fight back.
It is estimated that each year 10,000 new cancer cases are diagnosed in Pakistan. The high prevalence is contributed by number of factors. The most common risk factors of cancer include unhealthy lifestyle and exposure to chemicals and radiations, he said.

He said unlikely half of the patients searching for a match cannot find a suitable donor.
Bone marrow transplant is a sophisticated treatment for patients suffering from blood diseases like thalassaemia, various types of leukemia and other blood disorders in which their faulty or diseased bone marrow is replaced with healthy marrow from a donor, he added.

Doctor said the best chance of survival would be to receive a transplant from a donor to replace her diseased bone marrow with healthy blood stem cells the cells that can develop into different types of mature blood cells.

But a successful transplant requires the cells come from a donor with a genetically identical or similar tissue type, he said.

“The majority of donors in Pakistan are siblings and parents, however, in case of poor tissue matching, the patients need to have alternative donors,” he mentioned.
Dr said the bone marrow transplantation is very much costly at private set-ups and in most of the cases, Bait-ul-Mal provides charges for bone marrow transplantation.

He said concerned officials of the health department also ensure activation of bone marrow wards in public sector tertiary care as well as district hospitals and experts of these disease needs more trainings in hospitals.

Dr Shamsi said government has planed to build more teaching hospital for training of doctors, nurses and paramedical staff in the field of clinical haematology and stem cell transplant.

The bone marrow surgeon said that efforts are under way to establish an umbilical cord blood bank in the country with due attention to educate the masses that bone marrow donors are neither at any risk, nor do they have to go through any surgery.

He stressed the need for good quality bone marrow transplant centers, better control of infections and increasing funding for bone marrow transplant in the country not only on government level but in private sector as well to manage the increasing number of patients.

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