The first ever bone marrow transplant treatment on a child with thalassemia in the UAE has been successfully performed at a private hospital in Abu Dhabi.

Thalassemia is a genetic defect in the composition of haemoglobin and one of the most common blood disorders among children, which requires blood transfusions from time to time.

Ahmad, the three-year-old patient, had been suffering from Thalassemia major since birth and travelled to the UAE from Iraq for the treatment.

“Thalassemia major is the severest form of thalassemia in children. Bone marrow transplantation is the only curative treatment option for this disease. We are happy to successfully perform the transplant,” said Dr Zainul Aabideen, head of paediatric haematology and oncology consultant at Burjeel Medical City in Abu Dhabi.

Ahmad’s parents both had thalassemia trait, which means, there was a 25 per cent chance of their child being born with thalassemia major. While the first child didn’t have any issues, little Ahmad needed monthly blood transfusions.

“The surgery has been successful. I hope that Ahmed’s health will improve through the next stages of treatment. I advise all to undergo a thalassemia test before marriage so that they do not suffer the same issues that we faced,” Um, Ahmad’s mother, said.

Dr Mansi Sachdev, consultant, paediatric haematology, oncology and bone marrow, noted that if patients with thalassemia major don’t get timely blood transfusion, they suffer from weakness, decreased appetite and shortness of breath, which could lead to death.

“It is not only blood transfusion that they require but they also suffer from complications due to the disease. They require chelation therapy, which is life-long expensive medicine that is required to decrease the amount of iron that gets deposited in the body because of repeated blood transfusions, which can affect the heart, liver and other organs.”

Dr Mansi underlined that they were fortunately able to find a full match donor in his family, which was his 17-year-old sister.

“We were able to get them here from Iraq and he underwent bone marrow transplant. His transplant was successful and he is doing very well. He is now free from thalassemia and won’t be requiring monthly blood transfusions and won’t be suffering from any complications arising because of thalassemia in the future.”

The mother highly appreciated the world-class care and welcoming nature of the medical staff.

“I thank Burjeel Medical City for welcoming me, my children and my brother. The stay here was excellent. They provided everything we needed.”