Commemorating World Thalassemia Month, Apollo Cancer Centre, Chennai, in association with the Tamil Nadu Government, celebrated the milestone of successfully treating highest number of Thalassemia affected children under the Tamil Nadu CM’s Comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme. The landmark event was graced by Shri M Govinda Rao IAS – Project Director, Tamil Nadu Health System Project, Dr Ravi Babu, Joint Director – Director of Medical Services – CMCHIS Tamil Nadu Government, District Revenue Officer Mr. Mohan Chandran and Dr Preetha Reddy – Executive Vice Chairperson, Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Limited, Clinical team and Thalassemia beneficiaries under TNCMCHIS.
Among Apollo Cancer Centre’s many success stories of treating children with Thalassemia is that of 6-year-old Shreya*. Hailing from Namakkal district and belonging to an underprivileged family, she needed monthly blood transfusions to ensure her body has enough haemoglobin to supply oxygen through the body, from a very early age. BMT was the best solution to her condition, but there was no stem cell match found among family members or unrelated donors. The other option was to go with a half-matched family donor, her father. Owing to the high levels of antibodies in her blood against her father’s stem cells, that too was a challenge. But through advanced medical interventions, our expert clinical team were able to remove anti-bodies and proceeded with the BMT, which was successfully done under TNCMCHIS at Apollo Cancer Centre, Chennai. Shreya is doing well and is now thalassemia free. For many patients and their families from underprivileged sections where monthly transfusions are a significant disruption, BMT gives a new lease to their lives and timely financial aid from TNCMCHIS offers a beacon of hope.
(*Name changed to protect the identity)
Dr Revathi Raj, Senior Consultant – Paediatrics & Haematology Oncology, Apollo Cancer Centre, Chennai, quoted “Not only Shreya*, but around 165 young patients affected by Thalassemia major have benefitted from BMTs at Apollo Cancer Centre, Chennai under TNCMCHIS. Despite several challenges, with able support from Tamil Nadu Government, we have managed to treat these children who require specialized and intensive care. Every child deserves a chance to live a healthy and fulfilling life, and it’s heartening to see that the Chief Minister’s Comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme in Tamil Nadu has enabled timely medical intervention for several underprivileged children suffering from Thalassemia, Primary Immune Deficiencies and genetic disorders. We shall continue collaborating with Tamil Nadu Government to provide the exceptional care to our young patients, enabling them to lead a healthy and good quality life.”
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Preetha Reddy, Vice Chairperson, Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Limited said, “It is heartening that the TNCMCHIS initiative has given new hope to so many underprivileged children requiring BMT for the treatment of Thalassemia. It has been Apollo Cancer Centre’s privilege to have successfully treated over 400 children suffering from Thalassemia of whom around 40 per cent were treated under the aegis of the TNCMCHIS. We are deeply grateful to the Ministry of Health, Government of Tamil Nadu for their continued support to us, in Apollo’s mission to bring healthcare of international standards within the reach of every individual.”
Bone marrow transplantation (BMT) is the only curative option for Thalassemia major, Aplastic Anemia, and Primary Immune Deficiencies. There are over 1.5 lakh people affected with Thalassemia in India, and over 10,000 -15,000 Thalassemia affected new births in India each year. Thalassemia carrier has no symptoms and in case both the partners are carriers, there is a 25% chance of the baby being affected with Thalassemia major. In Tamil Nadu, Thalassemia carrier status is high in Ooty, Coonoor, Sitteri, Dharmapuri, and Tirunelveli. In some geographies, Thalassemia carrier status is just 1% whereas in some geographies it is as high as 17%.
Apollo Cancer Centre recognizes the need for increased awareness about Thalassemia and is committed to providing quality healthcare and education to the public on the prevention and management of this blood disorder.