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How Kanpur cops are helping Thalassemia patients hit by pandemic

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Lucknow, June 21: Over a hundred children and adults suffering from thalassemia in Uttar Pradesh and are also on dialysis and require regular blood transfusions.

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Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder caused when the body doesn't make enough of a protein called hemoglobin, an important part of red blood cells. When there isn't enough hemoglobin, the body's red blood cells don't function properly and they last shorter periods of time, so there are fewer healthy red blood cells traveling in the bloodstream.

The disease is managed through treatments that include frequent blood transfusion, iron chelation and recently hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.

Hit hard by the pandemic, over a thousand Thalassemia patients in Kanpur and adjoining areas have found help from policemen, who have pledged to donate blood for them regularly.

Doctors attached to the government-run Lala Lajpat Rai Hospital (Hallet Hospital) said they have 110 registered patients of thalassemia, an inherited blood-related disorder, who come for blood transfusion regularly.

Besides Kanpur, there is also a regular demand for blood by such patients from adjoining districts like Hardoi, Unnao, Kannauj and Auraiyya, they said.

"Thalassemia patients need life-long blood support. On an average, adults need two units of blood and children need one unit once a week. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the shortage of blood hit these patients hard," said Dr Lubna Khan, professor and nodal officer in the department of transfusion at the Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi Memorial (GSVM) medical college, which is attached to the Hallet Hospital.

"Several other patients who used to visit Sanjay Gandhi Post-Graduate Institute (SGPGI) of Medical Sciences in Lucknow for regular blood transfusion were hit by the pandemic and have now started coming to Hallet for blood," Khan told PTI over the phone.

Kanpur Police Commissioner Asim Arun said the first such donation camp under the initiative was held at the Kotwali police station on Sunday where the force''s personnel volunteered in large numbers.

"The camps will be held at one police station every week. It will be held on a rotation basis so that there is no load on police personnel as well, and the requirement of blood can be met regularly for thalassemia patients," Arun told PTI.

"Regular blood donation for thalassemia patients will not be a problem in the future here," he said, adding that the Kanpur Commissionerate has 34 police stations, including the Mahila Thana, besides dedicated Traffic Police and reserved police lines with a good number of personnel willing to volunteer.

The Hallet Hospital has sought a support of 50 units of blood per week, according to officials. The camp on the first day at the Kotwali generated 51 units of blood donated by policemen, they said.

Dr Khan said the police coming to the aid of thalassemia patients is a "big help".

"We are in touch with several NGOs and educational institutes which have been a regular help for us. The IIT Kanpur has been a major blood donor site but because of the pandemic and online classes, those donors are not currently available," she said.

The doctor said that of the 110 thalassemia patients registered with Hallet, most are children.

"One woman is 39 years old now, and her survival is a miracle story. The need for blood support increases as a person with thalassemia grows old. They need life-long support," she added.

Both Khan and Arun, who was recently appointed the first police commissioner of Kanpur, hoped more people become aware of thalassemia and volunteer for blood donation.

With PTI inputs

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