Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 21 October 2019

Online database using Emirates ID will accelerate organ donation process

Emirates ID will store health information and show doctors if a resident has signed up to national donor programme

Hospitals are to be given access to a database of organ donors
Hospitals are to be given access to a database of organ donors

Details on how people can register as organ donors using their Emirates ID were revealed on Wednesday.

A database of donors signed up to the National Program for Organ Transplantation will be available to hospitals to monitor availability of organs in real time.

The Hayat application launched on day three of Arab Health in Dubai, the region’s largest healthcare conference.

Ministry of Health and Prevention officials described how the database would work, and how patient information would be protected by blockchain technology.

Blockchain is a secure ledger between two parties, protected by encryption, more commonly used in the transfer of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.

In the Hayat app, blockchain is used to ensure donor information transferred from an Emirates ID is protected, and that an organ donor remains anonymous in any transplant procedure.

Fatma Hasan Shehab was the first patient in the UAE to receive a heart transplant, in September 2017. Reem Mohammed / The National
Fatma Hasan Shehab was the first patient in the UAE to receive a heart transplant, in September 2017. Reem Mohammed / The National

Mubaraka Ibrahim, director of IT at the ministry, said Hayat was the latest step towards a comprehensive national donor programme.

“The protected information will securely provide a link between the healthcare provider, patient and donor,” she said.

“The donor can go online to register via their Emirates ID to notify which organs they wish to donate.

“During the sign up phase, the potential donor will be presented with a copy on existing law on organ donation, and asked to sign a declaration they are in agreement.”

That donor’s information is then recorded in a secure online database.

If that person is ever involved in a fatal accident, or dies of natural causes, the system will verify who is the most suitable recipient of any organs from that person.

In phase two, the programme will conduct human leucocyte antigen (HLA) profiling, a blood test to match transplant recipients with a compatible donor.

The HLA system is made up of a complex group of genes involved in immune regulation and cellular matching, crucial to the effectiveness of a transplant, especially in kidney and bone marrow.

A DNA verification of organs linked to Emirates ID will also give hospitals real time information on the geographical location of the donor in relation to the recipient.

“If there is an accident, and the person involved has signed up to the donor programme, the system is intelligent enough to notify where the organ should be used,” said Ms Ibrahim.

“If there are seven people waiting for a transplant, for example, the system will have enough information to automatically decide who is most suitable and will select the nearest donor.”

So far, four medical facilities are licensed for organ transplants: Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, Mediclinic City Hospital in Dubai and Al Jalila Children's Specialty Hospital.

More than 1,000 people are estimated to undergoing dialysis, in need of a kidney transplant.

The Ministry’s collaboration with the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship will provide medical information on ID cards.

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, the Minister of Tolerance, met with UAE transplant patients at Cleveland Hospital last week. Photo by Reem Mohammed/The National
Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, the Minister of Tolerance, met with UAE transplant patients at Cleveland Hospital last week. Photo by Reem Mohammed/The National

It will allow healthcare providers to review information such as blood type, health insurance, vaccinations, communicable or chronic diseases, latest surgeries and lab results.

ID cards will also offer information on what medications have been prescribed, or if the resident has hypersensitivity to medications.

The first phase will be implemented in government hospitals, allowing healthcare providers in the UAE or GCC access to a patients’ medical records.

Also on show at Arab Health was Cryosave, a family stem cell bank in Dubai Healthcare City.

Stem cells are extracted from newborn cord blood and tissue to explore new treatments in regenerative and transplant medicine.

It could help treat conditions like autism, cerebral palsy, hearing loss, heart defects, and diabetes.

“The bank processes stem cells samples extracted from a new born baby’s umbilical cord, storing them for future use,” said Mai Ibrahim, chief executive of Cryosave Arabia.

“These stem cells have powerful healing capabilities and can be used to treat a wide range of genetic diseases like Leukaemia, lymphoma and sickle cell anaemia.”

Updated: January 31, 2019 04:14 PM

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