Abu Dhabi: A total of 18 patients who have benefited from bone marrow transplants in the UAE came together for a meet-up on the anniversary of the first paediatric bone marrow transplant in the country.
Gathering at the Burjeel Medical City here, the patients and their families shared stories about their experiences, and the lifesaving procedures that had benefited them.
“My child has a new lease on life because of the unmatched care provided by the UAE,” said Florence, mother to Jordana. Jordana, a five-year-old from Uganda, had required a bone marrow transplant in March 2022 to treat her sickle cell anaemia.
“It was indeed a challenging time for us, but we were able to overcome it thanks to the steadfast support we received. We are indebted to the authorities and doctors who have extended their assistance and made this treatment affordable for us. We are proud to call the UAE our second home,” added Florence.
Young patients from 10 other countries, including Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Morocco, Syria, Sudan, India, and Pakistan have also since undergone bone marrow transplants at the Burjeel Medical City.
The hospital is one of eight facilities licensed to perform organ and tissue transplants in the UAE.
Among them is 11-year-old Nahl, who was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2022. She recalled her initial shock upon learning about her disease, but said she later drew strength from the encouragement of her family and doctors including, Dr Mansi Sachdev, consultant pediatric hematology, oncology and bone marrow transplant, at the hospital.
Nahl’s father, Khalid Fayyaz, was brimming with happiness as he addressed the gathering.
“If Nahl is with us today, it is only because of the Almighty and the exceptional care she received. Words cannot express my gratitude to the doctors and the authorities who facilitated this treatment for her,” Fayyaz said.
Medical experts, officials, and representatives charitable organisations, including Emirates Red Crescent and The Rahma Cancer Patient Care Society, were present during the gathering.
The attendees discussed the requirements of children awaiting bone marrow transplants, and explored ways to streamline offerings.
Ali Al Shamsi, director general of The Rahma Cancer Patient Care Society, assured an increased focus on pediatric bone marrow transplants.
“Thanks to our wise leadership, the UAE is, and will always be, a beacon of shared humanity and global fraternity. Each and every day, we continue to strive as individuals and as teams, like you here today, to bring to bear the resources and expertise that we have been blessed with in order to better the lives of our brothers and sisters around the world,” said Dr Hawaa Al Thahak Al Mansoori, a member of the UAE’s Federal National Council.
More transplants in 2023
Dr Shamsheer Vayalil, founder and chairman of Burjeel Holdings, along with the senior officials of the group, interacted with the families and officials who attended the gathering. The hospital management and the children’s families thanked the UAE authorities and charitable organisations for extending year-long support to BMT patients.
“In the last year, we have performed allogenic and autologous transplants in patients with leukaemia, thalassaemia, sickle cell disease, primary immunodeficiency, and HLH. This year, we look forward to offering 50 pediatric bone marrow transplants. We are thankful to the authorities and our partners for their continued support,” said Dr Zainul Aabideen, head of paediatric haematology, oncology and bone marrow transplants at Burjeel Medical City.