Celebrity-artist leads PH’s World Thalassemia Day celebration
Two days after celebrity artist Heart Evangelista announced that proceeds of her hand painted dresses for Mark Bumgarner on January 18 at Dusit Thani Manila will go to the Thalassemia Association of the Philippines and Corridor of Hope, the wife of vice presidential candidate Senator Chiz Escudero led the country’s celebration of the 11th World Thalassemia Day.
Held on January 9, thalassemia-afflicted children and their families within Metro Manila and from nearby provinces converged at the Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City to advocate much needed policies in the Philippines’ health care system that will also benefit their condition.
Thalassemia is one of the world’s most common single-gene disorders. Sadly, it remains largely under-diagnosed in the country. In its most severe form, patients need regular, monthly blood transfusion in order to survive. They also develop lethal iron overload from blood transfusions, thus requiring patients to also take lifelong maintenance of iron chelating agents. A patient’s expenses average around P30,000 per month.
Patients of this gene disorder are mostly children, and here in the Philippines, their families need to face the difficulty of blood shortage as well as lack of funds to support chelation therapy.
“Thalassemia deserves priority in the country’s health agenda,” said Dr. Liza Naranjo, a pediatric hematologist and officer of the advocacy group Thalasse-mia Association of the Philippines. “If you are a Filipino thalassemic patients, the trend is that you get overwhelmed with heart and liver complications by age 10 to13 years.
“Sadly, there is still a lack of regular blood donation for our patients, because unlike in other countries, Filipinos are not conscious that blood donation is a social obligation,” she added.
As part of her decade-long advocacy to help thalassemia patients, Evangelista, conducted an art workshop for 80 children at the Lung Center event. The artworks completed from the session are now on display for sale at the hospital’s Oxygen Art Gallery to help raise money to support the young patients’ medical needs.