What Is Thalassaemia?
Red blood cells contain haemoglobin, an iron-rich protein that carries oxygen from your lungs to all parts of your body.
Haemoglobin has two kinds of protein chains: alpha globin and beta globin. If your body doesn’t make enough of these protein chains or they’re abnormal, red blood cells won’t form correctly or carry enough oxygen. Your body won’t work well if your red blood cells don’t make enough healthy haemoglobin. Genes control how the body makes haemoglobin protein chains. When these genes are missing or altered, thalassaemias occur.
How do you get Thalassaemia?
Thalassaemias are inherited disorders – that is, they’re passed from parents to children through the genes. People who get faulty haemoglobin genes from one parent but normal genes from the other are called carriers. Carriers often have no signs of illness other than mild anaemia. However, they can pass the faulty genes on to their children.
People who have moderate to severe forms of thalassaemia have inherited faulty genes from BOTH parents.
All human beings have two sets or copies of each gene called an ‘allele’; one copy on each side of the chromosome pair. Recessive diseases are monogenic disorders that occur due to damage in both copies or alleles.