I Am A Thalassemia Carrier

Lethargy has been the order of they day for me for as long as I can remember. When I had my first full blood test done in 2004, it showed I had elevated level of serum creatinine and mild anaemia. The serum creatinine of 188 umol/L indicated that I had chronic renal failure. The nephrologists that I consulted linked the anaemia to renal failure. However nothing was conclusive until recently.

Iron supplements have done little to improve the situation. I went to see a haematologist regarding the anaemia in April. I had my blood tested. The results indicated that I may be a thalassemia carrier. A hemoglobin electrophoresis was done to confirm it. The results are out. My blood profile is consistent with alpha thalassemia trait.

According to the Northern California Comprehensive Thalassemia Center, individual(s) with alpha thalassemia trait will experience no significant health problems except a possible slight anaemia which cannot be treated with iron. It also stated that thalassemia trait is common in people of Southeast Asian ancestry including Malaysians and Chinese. This is like striking first prize in the lottery together with the jackpot. What remarkable odds!

Author: Peter Tan

Peter Gabriel Tan. Penangite residing in the Klang Valley. Blissfully married to Wuan. A LaSallian through and through. Minion to three cats. Wheelchair user since 1984. Columnist of Breaking Barriers with The Borneo Post. Principal Trainer at Peter Tan Training specialising in Disability Equality Training. This blog chronicles my life, thoughts and opinions. Connect with me on Twitter and Facebook.

8 thoughts on “I Am A Thalassemia Carrier”

  1. hello mr tan =) long time since i’ve left my mark here ^^

    it’s nothing too big to worry about, isn’t it? as you mentioned yourself up there, no significant problems except mild anemia… but if you’re planning to have children, then it would be wisest to have mrs tan checked if she’s a carrier too, but i guess your doctors have already consulted you about that, isn’t it?

    till next time, cheerios, and take care!

    Peter:
    I have been following your blog though. Been busy at the hospital huh. Children are not in our plans at the moment. Wanna be my kai lui? Yes, the doctor has advised me on the necessary steps to take. When lar you wanna go yum cha with me?

  2. You know Pete, I’m relearning biology thru’ you!! More spinach and tomatoes for you.Two of the best things from nature.
    Weather’s gone cooler which is a welcome relief.

    Peter:
    I am learning myself too. 😀 I have to cut down on spinach and tomatoes. My serum uric acid level is touching the high side. I miss food such as spinach and anchovy soup and stir fried liver in thick soy sauce. The taste of that liver dish at Lok Thai Kee at the corner of Penang Road/Burmah Road is still fresh in my mind. It has been raining late – a good thing when I am not going out but a pain when I need to go out.

  3. Hi, I have beta thalassemia trait and so does my son. Let me reassure you that being a thalassemia carrier or having the trait does not give rise to any serious health complications other than mild anemia. It can’t be treated with iron because we are not short of iron, it is just that our red blood cells die faster than other people.
    Still, it doesn’t kill and does not incapacitate us and does not make us sickly or anything. Heck, I am healthy as a horse and had a baby and I didn’t die or suffer any complications. I didn’t even know I have this until we found out my kid has it.
    By the way, my kid is also 100% healthy (my husband is not a carrier).
    The fact is a lot of people are carriers and they do not know it until they went for a blood test. Some people lived their whole life without knowing it!
    It will never develop into thalassemia major as only some children (I think 30% chance) born of thalassemia trait parents (both parents) could be born with it. So, you should ask your wife to do a check up to see if she is also a carrier. If she is, you will need to seek doctor’s advise if you do decide to have children in future.
    Hope this helps to reassure you.

    Peter:
    Thanks for the info. It is most assuring coming from another person who has similar condition.

  4. Hi there,

    I ain’t sure whether checking thalassemia before marriage is good or bad. I have seen couples break up because of that.

    Probably fate. Sigh.

    Peter,
    Personally, being aware of the risks would remove many of the anxieties later on and allows us to deal with the eventualities better.

  5. There is thalassemia in my family but it does not look like I have it because I had it checked. Poor Peter. You are getting double jackpot.

    Peter:
    If only it was the lottery…

  6. Greetings from Illinois. I also have the thalassimia trait. I find that when I do a lot of exercise, I get very tired, and sometimes need to rest for a few days. This makes it difficult for me to ride my bicycle to work (11 miles each way).
    But other than that, this genetic defect has had no real effect on my life.
    Good luck!

    Peter:
    Hello from hot and humid Kuala Lumpur. Thanks for sharing. I do get breathless easily too. Perhaps the weather has a part in this.

  7. Hi,

    Just to share with you. I’m a Thal Major who require monthly blood transfusion. Apart from that, Thal does not give me much problems and definitely wont affect my life. Yes, I do get tired out easily especially during my low Hb time but hey, that doesn’t prevent me from doing alot of sports and leading a normal lifestyle. I do go swimming, jungle trekking, snorkelling, and even manage to climb up to Mount Kinabalu.

    http://www.thalpal.com this is a very useful site for informations on Thalassemia.

    Hope this can assure you that being a Thal Carrier will not affect you in your life ya.

    Peter:
    Thank you for sharing. It has not affected my life as much as chronic kidney failure. Life goes on. i hope things are well with you too.

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