In SGH, we have a specialist Thalassemia Clinic with a dedicated multidisciplinary team consisting of doctors, nurses and social workers.
NTDT patients will need regular monitoring for complications. Some may need intermittent blood transfusion when there are exacerbations of anaemia during pregnancies, infections, or in preparation for surgeries. Some may also need more regular transfusions for specific periods of their lives to prevent or treat complications associated with the thalassaemia such as delayed growth and development. They may develop iron overload from increased gut absorption, and/or transfusions which can affect the heart, liver and endocrine system. Medications are available to chelate iron to prevent the adverse impact on the functions of these organs.
TDT patients need regular blood transfusions every 3- to 5-weekly. They also need regular monitoring for complications from iron loading as a result of the frequent transfusion. Iron chelation therapy is needed to prevent the adverse impact of the iron on the functions of the heart, liver and endocrine system. Haematopoietic stem cell (HSC) transplant is potentially curative and may sometimes be carried out on TDT patients if there is an eligible matched HSC donor (usually a sibling). Such transplants are usually performed during childhood when the transplant outcomes may be better. Gene therapy is another potentially curative treatment that is studied – it currently remains experimental in most parts of the world.