A rare genetic blood disorder, thalassemia major, has come in the way of 25-year-old Sukhsohit Singh to cherish his childhood dream of becoming a civil servant.
Singh is probably the first thalassemic major patient in India to have cracked the civil service exams in 2008. As per the revised list of Union Public Service Commission, he was ranked 48. Given the rank, Singh should have been selected for the administrative services. However, the medical board constituted to test Singh declared him unfit to join civil services, attributing thalasemmia major as the reason.
The disease, called beta thaleassemia in medical terminology, means underproduction of hemoglobin — the indispensable molecule in red blood cells that carries oxygen. The way to survive is regular blood transfusion and gene therapy.
“I’ve lost the count of the blood transfusions done on me,” Singh told HT.
A resident of Panchkula, Haryana, Singh has a series of academic records to his credit. He topped the Central Board for Secondary Education examination in commerce stream for the Chandigarh region and was also the topper in Masters in Public Administration in the Panjab University.
Singh cracked his UPSC exam while pursuing his doctorate in public administration in the Panjab University. Apparently for the first time, the department of personnel and training had to deal with a Thalassemic major patient.
The board of senior doctors at Safdarjung Hospital, Delhi, examined Singh in 2011 and declared him unfit to join any branch of the civil services.
General secretary of National Thalassemia Society Dr JS Arora said the decision to debar him would send a wrong message to hundreds of thalassemia patients, who want to pursue a career in administration.
Heart-broken, Singh appealed against the order. The government has constituted a new medical board at Delhi’s Ram Manohar Lohia hospital which has examined Singh.
Singh has fingers crossed and says, “There is no evidence to suggest that thalassaemic major affects the physical, mental, technical and administrative capabilities of a person”.