Dr Ameen Al Amiri Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: With incidences of leukaemia and lymphoma inexplicably on the rise in surrounding countries, the UAE is taking measures for preparedness, such as reaching out to more bone-marrow donors

The Ministry of Health (MoH) has decided to join an international programme known as the Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide (BMDW) — whose main mission is to increase the number of global donors.

Bone marrow transplant (BMT) can help cure leukaemia (cancer of the blood) and lymphoma (cancer that affects the lymph nodes) if the deadly diseases are detected early. While the two ailments are not on the rise in the UAE, their numbers are increasing rapidly in surrounding countries for reasons that remain unknown.

Dr. Ameen Al Amiri, assistant undersecretary at the MoH for medical practice and licences, and chairman of the National Blood Transfusion Committee — and himself a bone-marrow donor — spoke to Gulf News about the importance of increasing the number of donors across the UAE.

"If diseases such as leukaemia and lymphoma are caught early, there's a 90 per cent chance that the patient can be cured with the help of a transplant. Even though neither condition exceeds normal numbers in the UAE, they are still on the rise in surrounding countries for reasons not known yet. We need to be prepared," said Dr Al Amiri.

Currently, 17,660,879. bone-marrow donors and blood units are registered with the BMDW. The UAE is the only Arab country that is registered with the programme, and has a total of 59 donors.

A transplant requires a donor's tissue type to match that of the recipient, which, according to Dr. Al Amiri, is most likely found among genetically related donors (brothers or sisters).

"So far bone-marrow transplant has been proven to be the most suitable method in curing these diseases. [Donating is a] harmless procedure that takes less than half an hour and involves a syringe. It has no side effects on the donor."

Information

  • If you wish to donate your blood and bone marrow, you can do so at the Sharjah Blood Transfusion and Research Centre.
  • The centre is managed by the Ministry of Health.
  • You can call up the centre at 06 5582111.