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Hamad is an eight-year-old Emirati boy who was cured of Sickle Cell Disease thanks to the cord blood stem cells from his younger brother, Abdullah, that were stored by CellSave Arabia.
Sickle Cell Disease is a group of inherited conditions that affect the shape of red blood cells. Normal, healthy red blood cells are a circular, disc shape; whereas, red blood cells in sickle cell disease, have a crescent or “sickle” shape. The sickle shaped blood cells tend to stick together in clumps, leading to blockages in tiny blood vessels. This can result in pain crises, infection, chronic progressive organ damage, and eventually stroke. Also, sickle cells do not effectively transport oxygen around the body, so that patients with Sickle Cell Disease experience chronic anaemia, fatigue, and shortness of breath.
Sickle Cell Anemia is one of the most common inherited blood disorders in the UAE, and the country is also reported to have one of the highest national frequencies of the disease in the world. Dr. Maryam Matar, founder of the UAE Genetic Disease Association said:
Hamad’s family, from Abu Dhabi, wanted to improve the quality of life for their son and requested to transplant the cord blood from his younger brother Abdullah that was stored with CellSave Arabia. The only cure for Sickle Cell Disease is through transplant of blood-forming stem cells such as those found in cord blood. Stem cell transplants are most effective in children and young adults with Sickle Cell Anaemia. When the stem cell donor is a compatible sibling, the outcomes are extremely positive: close to 90% sickle cell disease-free survival. Following successful stem cell transplants, sickle cell disease patients are symptom-free and their quality of life is greatly improved.
At the beginning of 2017 Hamad’s parents had made the decision to use the cord blood stem cells from his brother for a transplant to try and save his life. The transplant was carried out in the United States at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, in conjunction with CellSave Arabia, where the sample was stored and shipped after in-depth testing in compliance with strict AABB and FDA criteria.
The transplant took place on 23rd June 2017, and almost a year later, Hamad is now completely cured and living a happy, healthy life, disease-free. Mai Ibrahim, Chief Operating Officer at CellSave Arabia said, "It is such a great honour to be contributing to saving lives here in the United Arab Emirates, and we want to support those tackling the disease in the country, where it is so common. We are trusted with families’ valuable stem cells so it is absolutely essential that we ensure each sample is processed, stored and released successfully from our Dubai facility."