Modhesh Friends Forum participants visit Dubai Thalassemia Center

July 30, 2010


Children participating in Modhesh Friends Forum, organised by Dubai eGovernment as part of Dubai Summer Surprises 2010 being held from June 17 to August 7, were recently taken on a visit to the Dubai Thalassemia Center in Al Wasl Hospital. The children were accompanied by representatives from Dubai eGovernment, supervisors of Modhesh Friends Forum, in addition to several specialist doctors and staff from the Thalassemia Center, who together were focused on bringing a smile to the faces of thalassemia-afflicted children. Modhesh, the ever smiling character was also present to cheer up the children.

The visit to the center underlines Dubai eGovernment’s strong commitment to corporate social responsibility efforts, which benefit all community segments, including children diagnosed with thalassemia. Dubai Thalassemia Center is the UAE’s first specialized center to provide support and care to thalassemia-afflicted people.

The visit by Modhesh Friends Forum participants featured an informative presentation about Thalassemia, its stages of development, diagnosis, and the medical services offered by the center. It also featured an entertaining performance by Modhesh, followed by the distribution of special gifts to the children at the center.

Abu Dhabi Blood Bank Organizes Blood Donation Drive with Al Naboodah National Contracting Group LLC

January 28, 2010

Couresty by:
The Abu Dhabi Blood Bank, which operates under the direction of the Sheikh Khalifa Medical City managed by Cleveland Clinic, launched a blood donation campaign today 24 January 2010 on its campus for the staff of Al Naboodah National Contracting Group LLC. More than (100) staff volunteered in response to the growing demand for blood and blood components. SKMC is owned and operated by SEHA, the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company, which is responsible for the curative activities of all the public hospitals and clinics in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

The Blood Bank organizes an average of seven blood donation drives weekly with different organizations in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Universities cooperate with the Blood Bank to organize such donation drives for its students, shopping malls for its visitors and companies for its staff. The blood collected through the Blood Bank in such campaigns or in its campus covers the needs of governmental and private hospitals in Abu Dhabi as well as other Emirates. Blood transfusions often are needed for trauma victims due to accidents and burns, heart surgery, organ transplants, and patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or other diseases, such as sickle cell disease and thalassemia.

The Abu Dhabi Blood Bank medical staff performs tests on blood donors for hemoglobin, blood pressure and blood type. The blood collection process takes approximately 10-20 minutes per donor while the entire process from the time volunteers register and begin the screening until they leave took approximately 45 minutes to an hour. Educational brochures, leaflets and posters were distributed around the facility to raise awareness among the employees about donating blood. Volunteers provide nearly all the nation’s blood supply for transfusion; there is no substitute for Human Blood. If eligible donors give blood twice a year, it would greatly help in maintaining an adequate blood supply for the country. Eligible blood donors can donate blood 3-4 times a year safely.

Dr. Laila Abdel Wareth, Chairman of Laboratory Medicine at SKMC praised the efforts of the Abu Dhabi Blood Bank team for organizing the event and thanked the staff of Al Naboodah who donated blood to save lives.

Mr. Glyn Thomas, General Manager of Al Naboodah National Contracting Group LLC stated, “We are honored to organize with the Blood Bank this blood donation drive today. It is part of our social responsibility aiming to help the community and support the voluntary works whether it is for blood or other activities. We are proud to see a good contribution from our staff in donating their blood during this campaign which we aim on organizing annually”.

The Blood Bank staff ensures that international standards are complied with and that all blood donors were carefully screened to meet strict criteria and that all blood that is donated undergoes 6 major tests for infectious disease. The blood donation process is very safe; the health care team at the Blood Bank will assess donors to ensure their safety. It is not possible to acquire any disease through donating blood because only new, disposable, sterilized equipment is used for each donor.

The Abu Dhabi Blood Bank hours of operation are Sunday through Thursday from 7:00 am to 9:00pm and on Saturdays from 8:00am to 1:00pm. Organizations that would like to host the Mobile Blood Bank can call the Abu Dhabi Blood Bank to make arrangements.
To inquire, please call the Blood Bank at +971 2 4940400

Thalassemia Society Launches SMS Alerts to Collect Blood

December 14, 2009

Courtesy by:

DUBAI — The Emirates Thalassemia Society has launched a new and quicker way to generate blood during emergencies — by alerting the public
through SMS.

Reaching out to the public for the first time through electronic media, head of the society Abdul Basit said the launch of the SMS campaign was the fastest way to spread awareness on the condition and collect blood during need.

Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder and patients require regular blood transfusions at least once a month to survive. One in 12 persons in the UAE is said to suffer from
the disease.

According to estimates in 2008, the total number of thalassemia major sufferers in country who required hospitalisation was 1,500.

“Occasionally, we face blood shortage, so we have now started sending out SMS alerts asking people to donate,” Basit said, adding that the response has been good.

The centre has prepared 15,000 messages and questions that can help raise awareness on the disease and give information on the work of the society. “Most people do not know there is such a society that aims at supporting thalassemia patients,”
he said.

The messages are sent out in English and Arabic every two days to a database of members, patients and the general public.

“A drop of blood means a lot to thalassemia patients. Will you choose to donate blood?” or “Volunteering is the revolutionary approach towards measuring the extent of development of a nation” are among the different
kinds of messages that the society is sending out.

Currently, thalassemia patients are treated in Al Wasl Hospital in Dubai and Ministry of Health centres in all
other emirates.

On average, 300 new cases are seen at Al Wasl Hospital each year while 16,000 blood units are required yearly
at the facility that also has a 100 per cent occupancy rate throughout the year

The Dubai Health Authority celebrates quality week

October 30, 2009

Courtesy by:

The DHA will celebrate healthcare quality week from the 1st to the 4th of November, 2009. All DHA hospitals and speciality centres will take part in this event.

Dr Mohammad Al Olama, CEO of the Hospital Services Sector initiated this celebration to promote the importance of achieving improved patient care outcomes and healthcare delivery systems. This year’s theme is, “Patient Safety, Our Priority”

Al Wasl, Dubai Hospital, Rashid Hospital, DHA Airport clinic, the Thalassemia centre and the Harvard-affiliated Joslin Diabetes Centre will take part in this event.

On the 4th of November, the DHA will hold a seminar as well as conduct other awareness activities at the Rashid Medical Library Auditorium to discuss this year’s theme- “Patient Safety, Our Priority.”

DP World in cooperation with Dubai Health Authority, revamps recreation area at Dubai Thalassemia Centre

October 3, 2009

Courtesy by:

The Thalassemia Centre, the only facility in the UAE dedicated to Thalassemia treatment, has received a fully renovated recreation area thanks to support from DP World, UAE Region and the Dubai Health Authority (DHA).

The recently-inaugurated upgrade considerably enhances the Centre’s ability to serve around 450 Thalassemia patients who visit monthly for blood transfusions.

Thalassemia is a genetic blood disorder, notably prevalent in the UAE. The new revamped facility, designed and donated by DP World, UAE Region, is in line with the organisation’s commitment toward the awareness and prevention of Thalassemia.

The new recreational area offers transfusion chairs with individual multimedia screens, gaming consoles, computers, a library, a children’s play area, as well as a dedicated waiting area and a refreshments bar, all of which add significantly to the comfort of both patients and their families visiting the Centre, located within the Al Wasl Hospital complex.

Mohammed Al Muallem, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, DP World, UAE Region, said:

“The new facilities have been designed specifically to cater to the needs of the patients, while providing a more comfortable and productive environment for the patients, their relatives and caregivers. DP World, UAE Region is proud to have been able to collaborate with DHA on this upgrade, which advances our goals of improving the quality of life of those affected by Thalassemia, as well as increasing awareness that will lead to preventing the occurrence of this disorder.”

Dr. Khawla Belhoul, Director Thalassemia Centre, Dubai Health Authority, said:

“We are grateful for the ongoing support of DP World, UAE Region. The renovated recreational area will be of great benefit to both patients and visitors, especially those who escort the patients and must wait many hours for the transfusions to be complete.”

Thalassemia causes the degeneration of red blood cells, requiring those affected to undergo regular, life-long blood transfusions. As most carriers are unaware of their status, the Centre organises drives to promote premarital Thalassemia testing within the community. The test is simple and quick, and allows carriers to make decisions that help reduce transmission to future generations.

Life: Dealing with Thalassemia

August 17, 2009

Courtesy by:

Sabiha Hassan, who recently completed school, wants to become a psychologist. As she speaks from her hospital bed, a small sack of blood hangs on an IV pole and a tube is attached to her arm. A blood transfusion is in progress but she remains nonchalant — after all, this is something she has been doing ever since she was a two-month old baby.

Sabiha is a thalassemic major patient, one among many cared for at the Dubai Thalassemia Centre at Al Wasl Hospital. “I have blood transfusions every three weeks. The transfusions grew more frequent because I use more blood as I grow older. Of course, it is a little more difficult than leading a normal life, but I believe that we are all tested by God,” Sabiha says, leaning back on her pillow. She ensured the disorder never affected her studies. “I fix an appointment for the transfusion a day before or after the exams. I have had my friends coming over to the hospital and we studied together during exams.”

Sabiha’s assuredness makes doubts about thalassemia being a deadly disorder fade at this point… only to return during a chat with Dr Ahmed Mohammed Kadhim, Specialist Registrar, Thalassemia Centre. During the chat, it transpires that patients afflicted with thalassemia major have a short lifespan. “We do have patients approaching their 40s but with frequent blood transfusions there will be an iron overload in their tissues, which can damage the heart, the liver and the pancreas,” explains Dr Ahmed. And blood transfusion is a management, not a cure. “The only cure for Thalassemia is a bone marrow transplantation so that the patient’s diseased marrow can be replaced with a well functioning one.” The procedure is not currently performed in the UAE, Dr Ahmed adds. “After the procedure, the child will have a 95 per cent chance of leading a healthy life, free from thalassemia. Still, there is a 10 to 20 per cent chance of the procedure resulting in complications and a five to 10 per cent chance of death.”

Blood transfusions alone, in Dubai, cost about Dh 50,000 to 70,000 per year — this, not including the nurses’, doctors’, laboratory and other expenses. But at the Thalassemia Centre, Dubai, the expenses are covered by numerous charitable institutions and foundations.

To dispose the excess iron overload in the body of the patient, an injection must be administered to the patient through a special pump — five or seven days a week — which must remain injected for around eight to 10 hours every day. “But the problem is that patients do not comply with the need to use this because of the pain,” says Dr Ahmed. The long hours of use also makes the patient shirk the injection.

What sets thalassemia apart from most ailments is that awareness programmes do not target the patients — but rather the carriers of the disease, the thalassemic minors. While explaining the reason for this shift in focus, Dr Ahmed points out, “Carriers of the disease can live normally and will not show symptoms.” Hence, identifying these carriers through a special blood test is becoming an increasingly urgent need.

Couples planning to start a family should keep in mind that a diseased chromosome from one parent and a normal chromosome from the other have a 50 per cent chance of resulting in an offspring who is a carrier. And if both partners are thalassemic minors, there is a 25 per cent chance of their child being a thalassemic major — which is why a blood test should gain priority over any other plans before fixing a wedding date. 
 Even as the doctor speaks, 17-year-old Raheel Saghir is a minute away from having a transfusion. After two nurses read out Raheel’s and the donor’s blood specifications (which included a ‘K negative’ — a blood subgroup), Raheel gets ready for his transfusion.

Born and brought up in the UAE, Raheel was diagnosed with thalassemia when he was a baby. Both his parents are thalassemic minors. “My 16-year-old brother has thalassemia major, too, but my sister is fine, mashallah,” says Raheel.

Having a brother with the same disorder has helped Raheel deal with thalassemia more easily. “We come for blood transfusions together,” he smiles.

%d bloggers like this: