Couple calls off engagement after learning they have Thalassemia

KUALA LUMPUR: Two medical practitioners have decided to break off their engagement after learning that they are carriers of Thalassemia.

Sharing the news on Twitter, the woman, who wants to be known as Dr Farra said her ex-fiance informed her that he had the blood disorder, before the engagement.

According to the Myhealth portal, Thalassemia is a genetic disease whereby the patient cannot produce sufficient quantities of high quality blood.

In fact, children of Thalassemia carriers would suffer from Thalassemia Major where most severe types can cause serious organ damage and be life threatening if there is no close monitoring and regular treatment.

Men and women have an equal chance of getting the disease. Therefore, it is important to undergo Thalassemia screening.

Dr Farra initially thought that she was not a carrier.

She was however moved to get herself tested for Thalassemia test after getting engaged and that was when she found out that she too was a carrier.

"He is a carrier. He told me from the beginning. But I thought I was normal. I never even had a checkup.

"I did a test after we got engaged, as a precaution... Apparently I'm a carrier. So, the risk of getting Thalassemia Major is there.

"We cannot bear facing something that is uncertain," she said in a thread on Twitter.

Dr Farra said, before deciding to go separate ways, they spent several months discussing as it was not an easy decision to make.

In fact, the decision was made after remembering the pain of the children who are suffering from Thalassemia Major when they were both assigned to the Paediatrics Department together.

"We remember the children we cared for before. We had to give them blood every night, and they had to rely on blood transfusions. No matter how sad we felt, they (children) also fought back.

"They expressed their feelings and questioned why they had to suffer from such an illness. So I agreed (to separate) especially when he (ex-fiance) said, we can't be selfish. We fell in love and that is also a blessing. But, we need to feel sorry for the children," she said.

The thread that was shared on Twitter went viral and has also gotten a response from the Obstetrician and Gynecologist, Tunku Mukhriz Chancellor's Hospital, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Dr Mohd Faizal Ahmad who suggested the couple to try the in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment method if they continuedthe relationship.

"Actually there are many married Thalassemia carriers in Malaysia. Most couples get normal children through the PGT-M (Preimplantation Genetic Test) IVF method.

"In Malaysia, we have had PGT-M IVF for a long time for Thalassemia carriers to produce uninfected children. So if it's an issue with the baby, I think don't worry, we can help.

"I pray their 'jodoh' is strong and they would read up on PGT-M IVF for couples carrying Thalassemia," he said.

Social media users also expressed their surprise and sadness over the couple's decision to separate due to the illness.

In fact, one of her followers said that he and his partner were also carriers of Thalassemia category Alpha and Beta. They have gone through two miscarriages and are determined to undergo IVF.

Following that, they are now blessed with a two-year-old daughter who is in good health. The follower also advised Dr Farra to check which carrier group they were in and not to worry too much about the situation.

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