Mood Indigo to spread Thalassemia awareness

IIT Bombay students have decided to take time off from lectures to take up a social cause each year as part of popular cultural festival Mood Indigo. This year, they will create awareness on Thalassemia through the campaign 'Thalassemia — It's bloody serious'.

Mood Indigo volunteers have drafted a three-page bill making Thalassemia-testing mandatory before marriage to save children from the inherited blood disorder. The draft will travel to institutes in Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Pune and Delhi to garner support.

"We aim to get as many signatures as possible. The signed bill will then be presented to a member of parliament who will help us further it. It is a very big task, but we believe fire begins with a spark," said Prakkhar Gupta, an IIT-B student and organiser of the campaign that starts on September 27.

Abhay Bhave, consultant haematologist at Lilavati Hospital, Bandra, said, "The initiative is good and I support it. However, the idea of making screening compulsory for couples before marriage will not work as it will invite social stigma. People want to hide the fact that they are Thalassemia minor. These students should instead target people of marriageable age."

The students will also organise free Thalassemia screening for college students across Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai.

"Thalassemia is a terminal disorder that requires a patient to undergo blood transfusion every month without which his/her life is at stake. Experts have pointed out that detection of Thalassemia minor, which otherwise does not interfere in normal lifestyle, is necessary because it can prevent offsprings being born with Thalassemia major. When two individuals with Thalassemia minor marry, there is a 25 per cent chance their child may be born with Thalassemia major. Through Mood Indigo, we have vowed to increase awareness about the disease," said Vaibhav Chaudhary, another organiser.

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