Thalassaemia is an inherited blood disorder in which the body makes an abnormal form of haemoglobin. Haemoglobin is the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen. This results in excessive destruction of red blood cells, which leads to anaemia and ultimately means there is a lack of oxygen being transported to organs.
Some people are carriers of Thalassaemia. They usually do not have any symptoms and do not need any treatment. Their carrier status may only be suspected after the detection of smaller than normal number of red blood cells after a routine blood count.
The most severe form of Thalassaemia is known as Thalassaemia Major. Treatment for Thalassaemia in this form often involves regular blood transfusions. Having a large number of transfusions means patients may need a treatment called Chelation Therapy to remove the excess iron from the body. The Kids Cancer Centre has a large blood transfusion service for children who require regular blood transfusions to manage their Thalassaemia.