Baby Geethika, a 6 year old girl child came from Puthoor in Andhra Pradesh, with a severe form of Beta Thalassaemia diagnosed at 6 months of age. Beta Thalassaemia Major is a severe disorder of red blood cells which get destroyed quickly and hence requiring regular blood transfusions to sustain life. If left untreated, patients usually do not survive beyond the third decade. Iron overload due to repeated blood transfusions affects heart, liver and endocrine glands and leads to severe morbidity and mortality. Geethika had been having blood transfusions every month since infancy. The parents had to travel long to receive proper blood transfusions and spend INR 1000 a month for medications to reduce iron overload besides sacrificing 2 days of their income as daily wage labourers.
The only curative treatment available for Thalassaemia Major is stem cell transplantation. Scientifically, only 25% of children are known to have a fully HLA matched sibling for donating stem cells. Geethika’s only sister was tested for HLA matching and fortunately, she is fully matched for donating stem cells. Stem cell transplantation for thalassaemia needs to be done as early as possible before significant iron overload happens. Any financial assistance towards her cause would be much appreciated.