Hyderabad: Three years ago, when Malathi Dechiraju returned to India from the US, she was keen to follow her father, former governor of Maharashtra Prabhakara Rao’s footsteps and start working on a social cause.
Initially her organisation, Maa Aasaraa Foundation, was just a Facebook page where like-minded individuals would come together and work on providing counselling and moral support to women and youth.
“But then I decided to form a registered non-profit NGO, dedicated towards fighting thalassemia, simply because there is very less awareness about this disease, which is incurable and spreads only through inheritance,” she says.
Thalassemia currently affects over a lakh in the country and 8,000 infants are born with thalassemia every year. It is caused due to abnormal haemoglobin formation and results in improper oxygen transport and destruction of red blood cells. Thalassemia can cause complications, including iron overload, bone deformities, and cardiovascular illness and patients need blood transfusions every few weeks.
The first prerogative of the foundation has been to form a network of blood donors who can provide blood to patients in need. In three years, 30,000 people have donated blood and 10,000 people are regular donors. Malathi adds, “We conduct blood donation camps in various companies across the city. Last year, we had camps in the TRS and TD offices. Like in the US, whenever a person signs up for blood donation, we register them in our database and give them a call every three months, asking if they are ready to donate blood again.”
Maa Aasaraa is a sister organisation of the Thalassemia and Sickle Cell Society in the city and its efforts have aided in successful blood transfusions in 2,300 children registered with the society.
Its upcoming initiative is to generate enough funds to be able to distribute blood purifiers in Nizamabad and Adilabad in Telangana and in Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, where incidences of Thalassemia are the highest.
“A blood purifier is required to remove excess iron from the blood of thalassemia patients which otherwise ends up hampering the heart, liver and the kidney. But a device that can purify 12 units of blood every day costs Rs 10 lakh, so we are trying to get funds in place to be able to purchase and distribute them,” says Malathi....