Treatment for thalassaemia depends on the type and severity of the disease.

  1. People who are carriers (they have thalassaemia trait) usually have no symptoms and need no treatment.
  2. Those with moderate forms of thalassaemia (for example, thalassaemia intermedia) may need blood transfusions occasionally, such as when they are experiencing stress due to an infection. If a person with thalassaemia intermedia worsens and needs regular transfusions, he or she is no longer considered to have thalassaemia intermedia; instead, the person is said to have thalassaemia major, or Cooley’s anaemia.
  3. Those with severe thalassaemia have a serious and life-threatening illness. They are treated with regular blood transfusions, iron chelation (ke-LAY-shun) therapy, and bone marrow transplants. Without treatment, children with severe thalassaemia do not live beyond early childhood. People with severe thalassaemia who are able to continue therapy successfully may live into their thirties, forties, and beyond.