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Thalassemia Treatments

The children that are born with thalassemia major survive by being treated with regular blood transfusions—usually monthly. Unfortunately, these regular transfusions, needed for the survival, cause other problems.

The iron stays in the body and accumulates when the red blood cells break down. Iron is an essential element for our bodies; however, for thalassemia patients, the excess iron accumulates in the heart, liver, and other organs until they are too damaged and weak to work properly and death occurs.  

Iron overload can be reduced by a drug called Desferal (deferoxamine mesylate USP), known as the iron chelating agent. It removes iron from the body by helping the kidneys excrete increased amounts of iron, reducing the risk associated with iron overload. An infusion pump, worn daily for eight to ten hours, is one of the most effective and one of the most tolerated treatments by the majority of patients with iron overload. It is a horrendously cumbersome, time-consuming, and expensive treatment.

Researchers have found a new oral drug to remove the excess iron but with less favourable results than Desferal, called Deferasirox (Exjade). This fairly new drug, which is more costly, is also known to have side effects that are not tolerated by some patients. A third method of chelation, which is used in Europe and the Middle East, is a combination of Desferal and Exjade.

Other methods have been used with much less success such as the L-1 which causes severe kidney damage if not properly managed; therefore, some countries like Canada are not allowing its use. I’m happy to see that treatment has improved considerably and is better managed since Isabella’s diagnosis. Although life expectancy has increased significantly over the years, it is rare, even now, for patients to be cured of thalassemia.

Please see our Resources and Links for more detailed information on Thalassemia and the associations and foundations pioneering for a cure.

Isabella's Journey

Serafina Sammarco Author

Isabella's journey is a captivating story about one famiily's fight against the blood disorder thalassemia. Engage in a heartfelt journey told from a Mother's perspective after her daughter Isabella is diagnosed with the blood disorder thalessemia major. Isabella's Journey shares the hardships Isabella faces as she is challenged by her disorder and her struggle to survive...

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International Thalessemia Day