“Marriage between relatives is a direct cause of deadly hemolytic Anemia” [Archives:1999/05/Health]

February 1 1999

Anemia can be caused by dystrophy, lack of vitamins and minerals. When you get anemia you become very weak and will probably not be able to think or work well. However, most anemias are curable. Taking vitamins and eating good food could treat anemia. Taking good care of yourself makes you avoid anemia in the first place. But there is one kind of anemia that is very difficult – if not impossible – to cure. That is hemolytic anemia.
The unique thing about it is that it is mainly caused by congenital factors. A patient with hemolytic anemia must follow specific directions in order to be safe. Otherwise, it may bring about death.
Dr. Saleh Ahmed Bamashmoos is a hematologist. He took his B.Sc. in Medical Laboratories from Sanaa University in 1982. He received his M.Sc degree in Medicinal Chemistry from Sussex University, UK in 1987. He has finished his Ph.D. thesis on “Assessment of Renal Function in Yemeni Patients with Glucose 6 Phosphate Dehydrogenase Deficiency.” He will discuss his Ph.D. thesis at Alexandria University.
To shed more light upon deadly hemolytic anemia in Yemen, I filed the following interview with him:
Q: What is emolytic anemia?
A: Hemolytic anemia can be divided into two groups:
1. Congenital hemolytic anemia: This kind is caused by defects within the red cells; e.g., hereditary spherocytosis, sickle cell anemia, thalassaemia, and favism.
2. Acquired hemolytic anemia: this kind results from:
a. An immune mechanism, e.g., hemolytic disease of new born- incompatible blood transfusion, etc.
b. Non-immuno hemolytic anemia, e.g., hemolytic anemia due to direct action of chemicals and drugs.
Congenital hemolytic anemia is more serious than the hereditary variety.
Q: What is favism?
A: It is a disease caused by a deficiency of the enzyme glucose 6 phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD). G6PD deficiency is a sex-linked congenital disease. It is more common in females than in males. If a patient with this disease eats broad beans, or smells rose pollen, or if he takes oxidized medicines, he becomes ill within a few hours. Headache, dizziness, vomiting, and running high temperature are basic symptoms of the disease. Later, the patient becomes very pale.
Q: Can favism be treated?
A: If a patient is not in a serious case, disease symptoms disappear within a few days. However, iron compounds are preferably recommended. In the late stages, blood transfusion becomes necessary, and it gives a good result.
Q: Are there specialized centers for hemolytic anemia patients in public or private hospitals in Yemen?
A: The Ministry of Health gives good care to patients through providing Central Laboratories with necessary reagents that help in discovering congenital hemolytic diseases. But still there are no specialized centers for hemolytic anemia patients in public or private hospitals in Yemen. They are treated in children’s and internal sections.
Q: Are there specialized doctors for these kinds of diseases in Yemen?
A: There are very few specialized doctors of hemolytic anemia in Yemen. However, internists and children’s physicians also can treat patients who have hemolytic anemia.
Q: What can patients do to avoid disease aggravation?
A: Patients with G6PD deficiency must avoid eating beans and taking dioxide medicines. The Hematology Center in the Central Laboratories gives every patient a card. This card includes the kind of medicines and foods that the patient must not take. Patients must show this card whenever they go to the doctor.
Q: Are there any factors related to the Yemeni society that cause this deadly disease?
A: Yes. Marriage between relatives is a direct reason behind hemolytic anemia, especially when both parents have the congenital factor. This kind of marriage is the most common in Yemen to date.
By: Nadwa Al-Dawsari,
Yemen Times