Dubai, UAE, July 2018 – Hamad Alyaarbi an eight-year-old Emirati boy who suffers from the debilitating condition Sickle Cell Anemia, has had his disease cured thanks to the use of stem cells from his younger brother, Abdullah, that were stored by CryoSave Arabia. At the beginning of 2017 Hamad’s parents had made the decision to use the cord blood stem cells from his younger brother, Abdullah, for a transplant to try and save his life. 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.
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. A life-limiting illness, it causes the sufferer terrible pain crises, eventually leading to organ damage and stroke.
Hamad’s family, from Abu Dhabi, wanted to improve the quality of life for their son and requested the release of Abdullah’s cord blood from CryoSave Arabia, as heamopoietic stem cell transplant is the only known cure for the illness. Cryosave Arabia are an industry-leading stem cell banking service with state-of-the-art storage facilities in Dubai and across the world. They offer a selection of stem cell storage solutions for new-borns including cord blood, cord tissue, cord vessel and placental tissue.
The transplant was carried out in the United States at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, in conjunction with CryoSave Arabia, where the sample was stored and shipped after in-depth testing in compliance with strict AABB (American Association of Blood Banks) and FDA criteria. CryoSave Arabia is the only AABB accredited facility in the United Arab Emirates.
Mai Ibrahim, Chief Operating Officer at CryoSave Arabia said, “We are delighted to have been a part of Hamad and Abdullah’s transplant procedure, and we are overjoyed that it was a complete success. 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.”
Dr Maryam Matar founder of the UAE Genetic Disease Association (GDA) added: “Cord blood is currently used to treat a variety of diseases. The stem cells extracted from cord blood have several advantages, some of which are known and some are yet to be discovered. Cord blood banking is an important, non-invasive method that allows families to be prepared for the unexpected. That is why I always encourage families that are expecting newborns to utilize cord blood banking.
“It’s incredibly important for expectant mothers who have a child with Sickle Cell Anemia to be informed about the ability to save their baby’s cord blood for potential transplant. A stem cell transplant has the ability to cure the disease, and all mothers should know this.”
About CryoSave Arabia
Cryosave Arabia offers families across the region the most advanced and comprehensive stem cell banking services in the world. Over the past 20 years, the company has successfully collected and preserved stem cells from over 80 countries across six continents, always applying the most advanced technologies and highest industry standards. Their state-of-the-art stem cell laboratory in the heart of Dubai Healthcare City is part of a global network, featuring six other advanced stem cell processing and storage facilities worldwide, located in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, South Africa and Portugal.
About Sickle Cell Disease
Sickle cell disease is a term which describes a group of inherited conditions that affect the shape of red blood cells. The most serious and prevalent of these conditions is known as sickle cell anaemia. Typical, 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 shape of these cells make them prone to clumping, leading to blockages in tiny blood vessels. This can result in pain crises, infection, chronic progressive organ damage and eventually, stroke.
Due to their abnormal shape, sickle cells cannot effectively transport oxygen around the body in comparison to healthy red blood cells. Consequently, the sufferer may experience anaemia, tiredness and shortage of breath.
The only cure for Sickle Cell Anemia is through a haemopoietic stem cell transplant, following myeloablative conditioning. Haemopoietic stem cells are blood forming cells, and are located in bone marrow and umbilical 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.