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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

Emirati toddler saves older brother's life thanks to transplant

Hamad Alyaarbi ,8, now free of the crippling sickle cell anemia thanks to stem cell procedure

Hamad Alyaarbi’s life is returning to normal after a stem cell transplant from his younger brother cured his blood disorder. Courtesy: CryoSave Arabia
Hamad Alyaarbi’s life is returning to normal after a stem cell transplant from his younger brother cured his blood disorder. Courtesy: CryoSave Arabia

One year on from a life-saving transplant from his younger brother and Emirati youngster Hamad Alyaarbi’s life is returning to normal.

The eight-year-old was diagnosed with sickle cell anaemia, an inherited blood disorder, that left him crippled with fatigue and struggling to play with his friends.

It is one of the most common inherited conditions of its kind in the UAE, but Hamad was offered hope by his younger brother Abdullah, 2, thanks to the stem cells he donated.

In early 2017, his parents decided to extract cord blood stem cells from Abdullah to try and save his older brother’s life.

Cells were stored at CryoSave Arabia, the only facility in the UAE registered with the American Association of Blood Banks.

A transplant eventually took place on June 23, 2017, and almost a year on and doctors have said Hamad is now completely cured and living a happy disease free life.

“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,” said Mai Ibrahim, chief executive at CryoSave Arabia.

“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.”

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The transplant was carried out in the United States at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

The UAE is reported to have one of the highest national frequencies of Sickle Cell Anemia in the world.

It is a life-limiting illness, causing the sufferer terrible pain and eventually leads 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.

Cord blood is currently used to treat a variety of diseases.

The stem cells extracted 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.

“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,” said Dr Maryam Matar founder of the UAE Genetic Disease Association (GDA).

“I always encourage families that are expecting newborns to utilise cord blood banking.

“A stem cell transplant has the ability to cure the disease, and all mothers should know this.”