Lawyer Anubha Taneja, 29, has thalassemia and spends two days each month getting blood transfusions in the emergency ward of Smt.Sucheta Kriplani Hospital, in central Delhi.
Like most adult thalassemics in Delhi, Taneja is a regular at Sucheta Kriplani Hospital, one of the few hospitals in the city tending to grown ups with thalassemia, a genetic condition in which a person is anemic for life.
“The doctors are already over-burdened in the emergency ward. We don't get adequate attention and have to wait to get blood transfusion till the beds are vacant,” said Taneja.
Diagnosed with the genetic blood disorder at the age of three months at Kalawati Saran Children Hospital, Taneja went there for blood transfusions regularly till she turned 25.
“The ward was like a second home to me, but I had to move as the cente for meant only for children,” she said.
She was asked to continue transfusions at Maulana Azad Medical College, where doctors wanted her to get admitted for three days for a single transfusion. “This would make it impossible for us to live a normal life,” she says.
At Sucheta Kriplani Hospital, it usually takes her a full day, from 9 am to 7 pm, for one transfusion.
While government hospitals such as Deen Dayal Upadhyay, Lok Nayak, Guru Teg Bahadur and Ram Manohar Lohia have paediatric wards for thalassemia patients, none have similar dedicated wards for adults.
Poonam Sharma, 25, also a thalassaemic, said the administration at Sucheta Kriplani Hospital is apathetic.
“We are treated like a burden. Getting them to collect our blood samples for testing takes more than two hours. Often, the interns in the emergency ward take our blood samples for testing but can't find the vein (for transfusion) in one go.”
The Medical Superintendent of Sucheta Kriplani Hospital could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.
A child born with thalassemia major is dependent on regular blood transplants and the only permanent cure available is a bone marrow transplant, which costs between Rs 8-10 lakh.
At BL Kapur Memorial Hospital, doctors gave a bone marrow transplant to a 2-year boy, with his 4-year-old sister.