Thalassemia major is the severe type where the patient has severe anaemia. The only treatment for Thalassemia major is periodic blood transfusion every 3 to 4 weeks, frequency of which increases with the age.
With each blood transfusion, the red cells are broken down & iron form the red blood cells accumulate in the body and can damage liver, heart & other body organs. If this is not prevented most patients die in their early twenties. Therefore the blood transfusions have to be supplemented with iron chelation treatment to remove the extra iron from the body.
Due to repeat multiple blood transfusions form different blood donors, these patients are at significantly greater risk of transfusion transmissible infections like HIV, HCV & HBV and also of alloimunization. To save these patients from such risks, NAT & leucodepleted blood should be transfused to them.
Iron chelation therapy, NAT testing, leucodepletion all add to the cost of managing these children.