Brunei has 55 thalassaemia patients depending on regular blood transfusions.
This was shared by staff nurse of Paediatric Haematology Ward 20, Women and Children Centre of Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital Noor Ejiah binti Haji Emran, who said there were 50 transfusion dependent thalassaemia patients recorded between 2015 to 2021, of which 27 were male and 23 were female.
Thalassaemia is an inherited blood disorder where the body makes an abnormal form or inadequate amount of haemoglobin. The disorder results in large number of red blood cells being destroyed, leading to anaemia.
Noor Ejiah was raising awareness on thalassaemia during a blood donation campaign organised by the Uniforms and Community Services Unit of the Department of Co-Curriculum Education, Ministry of Education.
“In one day, the maximum number of treatments we can conduct is five.
“So other patients have to be scheduled accordingly. We cannot treat more than five patients as we need to monitor their conditions, such as blood pressure and body temperature, while two other nurses ensure the accuracy of information received, such as blood type.
“The amount of work required is the reason for setting the limit at five patients a day,” she said.
“Those suffering from thalassaemia major are the ones that are really in need of blood transfusion.
“That is why blood donation campaigns are important in ensuring that blood stocks are sufficient to treat thalassaemia patients as well as others in need of blood transfusion,” Noor Ejiah said.
She added, “These thalassaemia patients will have to undergo blood transfusion treatments for life, and they depend heavily on the treatment.”
Noor Ejiah said patients receiving delayed transfusion may exhibit fever and decreased haemoglobin, leading to a lower amount of oxygen in the blood.
“Therefore, if the treatment is delayed, the oxygen level will decrease and cause weakness or lethargy in the patient.
“The amount of blood each thalassaemia patient needs during their treatment depends on their haemoglobin level and calculated according to their weight and age.
“If the haemoglobin level is too low, they might need at least three pints of blood,” she said.
Noor Ejiah added, “Therefore, blood donation campaigns are vital as they will help thalassaemia patients with their blood transfusion needs.
“We also hope more people will become blood donors. But what is most important is that before donating blood, they need to ensure that they are fit and healthy.”