Blood transfusion patient says thanks

FOR 29 years Ipswich woman Nisa Karia has lived with a blood disorder which means she has had to have a blood transfusion every three weeks.

FOR 29 years Ipswich woman Nisa Karia has lived with a blood disorder which means she has had to have a blood transfusion every three weeks.

After being diagnosed with the illness thalassaemia major at just five months old, she has already been to hospital for transfusions around 500 times.

Today, as Ipswich Hospital campaigns for patient transfusion awareness, Miss Karia has spoken about her illness and its effects and thanked the hospital for its help.

The 29-year-old, of North Lawn, said: “The disorder means I can't create my own red blood cells and at the end of every third week, just before my next transfusion, I get lethargic, out of breath and more and more anaemic. It's at this point it would become difficult to survive if I just carried on.

“I'll have to have the transfusions for the rest of my life.

“I could have had a marrow transfusion before I was ten but it was very high risk and my family and I made the decision not to do it.”

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The transfusions involve Miss Karia, who lives at North Lawn with her fiancé Alex Heys, being given three units of blood.

She stays in hospital from 9am to 5pm each time and the procedure leaves her feel groggy until the following day.

Miss Karia's parents Ani and Ramesh Karia both carry the affected gene. They are not ill but are classed as having thalassaemia minor. There eldest daughter Vimmi Hayes also has thalassaemia minor.

Miss Karia, who works in London at the international department of a retail chain, said: “The biggest upheavals came when I wanted to go to university and then start work.

“Having to tell people that I needed a day off every three weeks wasn't easy, and often I think it will work against me.

“After university my friends went travelling on a gap year and I really wanted to go but couldn't.

“When I was younger it was just a part of my life, and it's been since I've grown up it became frustrating.”

The transfusions were done at Ipswich Hospital until Miss Karia reached 20 and went to university in Leeds. Her treatment moved to a hospital in Yorkshire, and then she lived and was a patient in London for six years.

It was around a month ago she moved back to Ipswich and started visiting Ipswich Hospital again.

She said: “Ipswich Hospital has been great.

“The blood transfusion specialist Sharon Kaznica has known me since I was about three.

“I also have treatment with a specialist in London as the transfusions can lead to an iron overload, which can be fatal of it gathers in my organs. I'm on tablets daily to get rid of the iron.”

N Do you want to thank Ipswich Hospital? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail

N Babies with thalassaemia major appear well at birth but become pale, tired and feed poorly as they get older. Blood transfusions correct the anaemia but as the transfused red cells are used up, the anaemia returns.

N With regular transfusions, children grow normally. However, the iron in the transfused cells builds up in the body and patients need treatment to remove the excess iron.

N Thalassaemia can be cured by a bone marrow transplant. However, it is a painful and dangerous treatment and is best done when the child is young, before the iron build up.

Patient transfusion awareness

IPSWICH Hospital is today campaigning to raise awareness about the risks and benefits of receiving a blood transfusion, alternatives to blood and safety issues.

In April it had information stands at Ipswich's Tower Ramparts shopping centre and in the main patient and staff restaurant of the hospital.

The hospital has a transfusion team to push forward initiatives, ensuring up-to-date information and education is provided to patients and the public.

The team consists of blood transfusion specialist Sharon Kaznica , consultant haematologist Dr Debo Ademokun and chief blood bank manager Allan Morrison.

Mrs Kaznica said: “Ipswich Hospital offers alternatives to transfusion such as intra-operative cell salvage and post-operative cell salvage where the patient's own blood can be collected and returned to them during or following an operation.

“This helps to conserve a scarce resource.

“We are currently asking patients about their involvement and their opinions on how this can be expanded.

“Patients such as Nisa who have regular blood transfusions can play an active role in their treatment.”