Couples who are both carriers have a 25% risk of getting a child with thalassaemia
on every pregnancy. If your child has thalassaemia, he or she will require regular
blood transfusion to replace damaged blood cells. The repeated transfusion causes
iron built-up in the body that endangers the patient. It has to be removed at regular
intervals via a treatment called iron chelation. Iron chelation using desferal injections
has to be done over 8 - 10 hours every day for 5 or 6 times a week.
Malaysia is in the thalassaemia belt which stretches from the Mediterranean to South
East Asia. Sabah has the highest number of thalassaemia patients in Malaysia, mostly
within the Kadazan Dusun ethnic group. In Peninsular Malaysia, Malays account for
the majority of thalassamia patient in the region. If you are a carrier, there is
a risk of marrying another carrier and risking having children who have thalassaemia.
Don't wait until the weddings invitation has be sent before undergoing thalassaemia
screening. It may be too late to cancel the wedding or too distressful to accept
the reality if both persons are carriers.