• Tuesday, September 27, 2022

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UK Thalassaemia Society’s art contest to promote blood donation gets overwhelming response

A participant in the UK Thalassaemia Society’s art competition to raise awareness on blood donation,

By: Eastern Eye Staff

A BRITISH charity’s children’s art competition to raise awareness on thalassaemia and blood donation has received “overwhelming” support from across the world.

Launched in March, the United Kingdom Thalassaemia Society’s campaign received nearly 300 entries from 45 countries.

“Not only have we been bowled over by the overwhelming response and the creativity, but also the high degree of empathy shown in the children’s artwork,” said UKTS chairman Gabriel Theophanous.

“Thalassaemia is one of many conditions and situations where lives depend on blood donors. We cannot stress enough how important it is for people to donate blood if they can.”

 

 

Thalassaemia is a chronic blood disorder affecting the genes responsible for production of red blood cells, making patients dependent on regular blood transfusions throughout their lives.

Roanna Maharaj, 30, from Wood Green in London, has beta thalassaemia, which lowers haemoglobin levels in the blood. She has had transfusions all her life, and at one point of time needed blood from nearly 250 people over two years.

 

Roanna Maharaj, who has had blood transfusions all her life, calls donors “invisible superheroes”.

 

“Blood donors are amazing,” said Maharaj. “They are giving somebody like me a chance at life. Without them I would not be here today. They are the invisible superheroes and I cannot thank them enough!”

According to studies, about 10,000 babies are born with thalassaemia every year around the world, and, without timely medical intervention, the condition could lead to death in early childhood.

 

The organisers of the art competition said they were “bowled over” by the response and empathy from children across the world.

 

Thalassaemia had emerged as an evolutionary response to malaria, and hence was prevalent among people from regions such as Asia and South East Asia, the Mediterranean, South America, the Caribbean, Northern and Central Africa and the Middle East.

However, with mass migrations over the centuries, anyone can be at risk today. And that makes awareness on blood donation vital.

“Access to safe blood is still a privilege of the few,” states the World Health Organization. “Most low and middle-income countries struggle to make safe blood available because donations are low and equipment to test blood is scarce.

“Globally, 42 per cent of blood is collected in high-income countries, which are home to only 16 per cent of the world’s population. An adequate supply of safe blood can only be assured through regular donations by voluntary unpaid blood donors.”

According to NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), while people from all communities and backgrounds in the UK do donate blood, fewer than 5 per cent of blood donors who gave blood in the last year were from black, Asian and ethnic minority communities.

That makes awareness campaigns critical, especially with Covid-19 wreaking havoc in global health systems, the UKTS noted.

The charity’s art competition closed on June 4, and the winners will be announced June 14 — the World Blood Donor Day.

For more details, visit the following link: https://ukts.org/

Eastern Eye

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