Thalassemia major is a hereditary disease which affects the formation of haemoglobin in red blood cells. Individuals suffering from this disease are dependent on regular blood transfusions for their survival. There are two genes on human chromosome that are responsible for making haemoglobin in the body, and even if one of them is muted, the other keeps on synthesizing haemoglobin. However, in thalassemia major, both genes are muted; hence, the body lacks the ability to synthesize haemoglobin, and the person remains dependent on transfused red blood cells. Since the life of RBCs is very short, the thalassemia major patient needs to be transfused with fresh blood regularly, to maintain the required level of haemoglobin.
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Thalassemia minor is a condition where one of two genes is muted while the other is perfectly healthy and capable of making a sufficient amount of haemoglobin. People suffering from thalassemia minor are also called “carriers”, since they are carrying thalassemia traits. If both the father and the mother in a particular case are thalassemia minors, they have a 25 percent chance of having a thalassemia major child, and a 50 percent chance of having a thalassemia minor baby.
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