Meera turns princess for Burj Khalifa wish

January 16, 2011

Courtesy: emirate247.com

It was a dream-come-true for Meera, who suffers from Thalassemia but has a wishlist. Floating in like a princess, the five-year-old from Kalba had a day she, and all around her, would remember forever when she walked into Burj Khalia – the world’s tallest tower.

Treated like a true princess from her favourite fairy tale, Meera could fulfill her wish thanks to Make A Wish Foundation that takes care of children like her.

Surviving with regular blood transfusion since she was six months old, for which she is brought to Sharjah every three weeks, Meera will have lots to talk about over her visit to the world’s tallest tower.

In pain, most of the time, Meera had reasons to smile, laugh and be happy like the little princess in fairy tales and for once forget she would soon have to endure the blood transfusion procedure that could last up to seven hours at a time.

Her elated mother said: “Meera is the second child in our family. We have two other healthy kids, Mohammed aged 7 years and Mariya aged 4 years.”

Always wanting to be a Snow White or Cinderella, this trip to Dubai is special for Meera and her mother.

“She has a wide imagination. She is a very loving and caring kid. She is humble and she loves taking care of other kids, and she is very smart and intelligent. Despite her illness, she is very determined in such a young age to fight the disease and live a happy life. She is older than her age,” says her mother who is always there to take care of the little child.

“We surprised her at the hospital. She didn’t know that today she will live like a princess. A limousine picked her up, she wore a beautiful dress and crown. She distributed gifts to other kids at the Thalassemia Centre and she went atop Burj Khalifa, everything making her so happy.”

The foundation is chaired by Shaikha Shaikha bint Saif Al Nahyan, Chairman of Make A Wish Foundation and wife of Shaikh Sultan bin Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Consultant of the President.

In 2010, the foundation fulfilled the wishes of 180 children. Among them, 100 wishes were all fulfilled by Shaikh Sultan.

Dr Essam Dohair, Vice Chairman, Make A Wish Foundation in UAE said that the main aim of the foundation is to fulfill the wishes of children who suffer from life threatening disease and who are aged between 4 to 14 years.

Children suffering from life-threatening conditions such as cancer, thalassemia, serious disabilities, birth deformities are provided everything to fulfill their wishlist.

“We have direct orders from the Chairman to fulfill the wishes as soon as possible. This is so after a girl died before we were able to fulfill her wish. This made the Chairman very sad, and since then, we do our best to fulfill all the wishes quickly,” Dohair said.

He pointed out that the wishes they fulfill are not only for national, but also expatriate children.

“All the wishes which we fulfill fall under three main categories: 1. I want to see – where we take them to places such as Disney Land; 2. I want to own – where they want to obtain things like laptops or cameras; 3. I want to meet: where they want to meet the President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan or His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE’s Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, or His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chief of UAE’s Armed Forces and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.”


New centres for blood donation in 2011

December 31, 2010

Courtesy : Khaleejtimes.com

The Dubai Health Authority in collaboration with hospitals and health centres has announced the opening of new blood donation centres from early next year.

According to Dr Laila Al Shaer, Director, Dubai Centre, a number of new sites in each of the hospitals will be announced during the coming year.

In addition to this, a number of health centres will be launched, all with the latest equipment, resources and specialised staff needed to receive blood donors.

Dr Shaer said the move comes in response to the growing demand for blood and blood products.

Statistics show the annual number of blood units that have been made available during this year amounted to 28,430, including 12,864 units for Thalassemia Centre, and 14,103 units for hospitals (Rashid Hospital — 7,569 units, Dubai Hospital — 4,147 units and Al Wasl Hospital — 2,387 units). A total of 1,463 units of blood were provided to private hospitals.

The Director of the Dubai Centre for blood donation commended that the existence of such centres will allow community members the opportunity to participate in saving the lives of others and alleviating the suffering of patients while remaining involved in the provision of blood.

Dr Shaer said contribution to this project is to increase the inventory status of the blood by up to 20 per cent.

The role of the new centres will be complementary to blood donation campaigns being organised by the centre on a daily basis.


S.S. Lootah blood donors reach new milestone

October 1, 2010

Courtesy: ameinfo.com

The number of registered regular blood donors at S.S. Lootah Group, the Dubai based business conglomerate, has reached 170 yesterday. The new record number has been achieved during the bi-annual Blood Donation Drive, organized in association with Dubai Health Authority, to support Thalassemia patients and alleviate potential shortfalls in the emirate’s blood bank.

“S.S. Lootah started the blood donation drive in 2004, as a CSR initiative with a few volunteers. Today, we are able to maintain a healthy pool of blood donors with 170 regular donors, among them 9 have rare blood types. We are glad that our employees have taken our message to heart and become regular, committed donors,” said Naema Al Hamrani, Corporate Communications Manager.

Talking about the common misconception in donating blood, Kalthoom Mohammed Al Tahri, Community Programs Coordinator at S.S. Lootah Group, said, “Many of our employees were afraid to donate blood for reasons varying from worry about pain to fear of catching a disease. Our persistent efforts on awareness and promotion have helped in removing their apprehension while evolving a change in attitude and culture.”

Having a rare blood type, Amira El Haj never realized the importance of donating blood until she took part in the Lootah campaign six years ago. Amira says that she is now emotionally attached to this initiative and looks forward to an opportunity to donate blood whenever possible. Increased employee participation with about 31,500 ml. of blood collected this year is testimony to the fact that the Blood Donation Drive has succeeded in making a difference.

S.S. Lootah Group’s community programs have earned respect and recognition worldwide. The programs’ focus is on empowering leadership among Emirati students, SME entrepreneurs support, community awareness, relief, education, sustainability among others.


Rouse Organises Blood Donation Drive At Twin Towers

September 13, 2010

Courtesy: albawaba.com

Dubai Investment Properties, one of the leading real estate developers in the UAE, today announced that Rouse, a leading intellectual property (IP) consultancy, is holding a blood donation drive on September 14, 2010 from 9 am to 3 pm at the Twin Towers in Deira. The third annual blood donation drive, which is a part of the company’s global CSR programme ‘Rouse Cares’, will be held in association with the Dubai Health Authority to support patients suffering from thalassemia and other life-threatening ailments.

“Patients suffering from thalassaemia, cancer, accidents and other life threatening conditions need blood to save their lives. This ever-increasing demand of blood can only be met through voluntary blood donations,” says Mr. Jon Parker, Partner, Rouse. “Through our Rouse Cares programme, we aim to help improve the lives of others through sustainable initiatives and by growing roots in each country where we work. We are happy to organise our annual blood donation drive in association with the Dubai Health Authority where our staff, partners and clients can make a contribution to meet the continued need for blood at hospitals.”

The third annual blood donation drive will be held on the third floor of the Twin Towers. Employees, partners and guests are expected to voluntarily come forward to donate in large numbers. Rouse expects the donations to surpass last year’s number of 100 units. The DHA authorities will provide full medical equipment, information and support at the blood donation campaign.

“We commend Rouse for organising the blood donation campaign during the Eid period and are happy to whole-heartedly support it. Twin Towers will offer them all the facilities and services required to make this blood donation a mega success. We are sure DIP’s staff and other tenants at Twin Towers will also come out in full force to support Rouse’s blood donation campaign,” says Mr. Deepak Chawla, Operations Manager at DIP.

Globally, Rouse supports initiatives to help improve the lives of the local community through its ‘Rouse Cares’ programmer. The support ranges from providing legal support on a pro bono basis, supporting charitable institutions and working directly with community organisations.


Work on genetic diseases centre to begin next month

August 22, 2010
Courtesy by: zawya.com
Work on a new genetic diseases centre is to begin next month, health officials announced yesterday.
Once completed, the centre will treat patients suffering from sickle cell anaemia and thalassemia, as well as other genetic diseases.

During a meeting yesterday, chaired by Undersecretary at the Ministry of Health Dr. Abdulhai Al Awadhi, officials discussed the medial services currently provided to sickle cell anaemia patients and the requirements for the new centre.

Al Awadhi noted that a special room in the SMC’s Accident and Emergency Unit as well as two full wards within the hospital, have been allocated solely to treating sickle cell anaemia patients.

He added that the hospital is completely transparent in its operations and allows members of the Bahrain Society for Sickle Cell Disease Patients Care to visit these wards.

During the meeting, the heads of several SMC departments warned of a lack of medical staff and increasing pressure on nurses and doctors as a result of larger numbers of  patients seeking treatment at the SMC.

Al Awadhi revealed that around 1,000 patients seek treatment at the SMC’s Accident and Emergency Unit every day and this has led to a waiting list for patients as the unit is not equipped to handle such a large number of patients.

The Health Ministry has launched several initiatives to help curb the incidence of genetic diseases amongst Bahraini citizens. One such initiative has been the introduction of mandatory pre-marital screening for all Bahraini couples planning to get married.


UAE Genetic Diseases Association carries on initiative for UAE free from thalassemia by 2012

July 30, 2010

Courtesy: ameinfo.com

UAE Genetic Diseases Association (UAEGDA), the sole non-profit genetic organization in the UAE, recently announced that they are on track to achieve their “UAE Free from Thalassemia 2012” initiative, saying that the target looks quite achievable to eliminate births of children born with the genetic blood disease within the next two years.

Offering free and confidential testing and in association with National Bonds Corporation PJSC, the organisation held a blood screening drive earlier this week for its employees to screen them for the most commonly inherited blood genetic disorders—including as Beta Thalassemia, sickle cell anaemia, G6PD deficiency and Diabetes Mellitus—in support of UAEGDA’s national health campaign.

Regularly organized screening drives help to increase an individual’s awareness on the health risks posed by genetic blood disorders, which can be passed from one generation to the other. The process begins by registering online at the UAEGDA website. Bar-coded labels are then printed and placed on the individuals testing tubes after which the sample of blood is processed in the UAEGDA laboratory. The results are then sent directly to the individual’s email with all the details being handled solely between the client and the organization.

Dr. Maryam Matar, Founder & Chairman of UAEGDA, says that genetic blood diseases like thalassemia are highly prevalent in the UAE but can be addressed with a simple and inexpensive blood test as a primary solution in helping to reduce the presence of hereditary diseases in the country.

“We are confident that with the rapid increase in the activities of our organization and with all the awareness events organized by UAEGDA across the country, we can make the UAE free of thalassemia by 2012,” adds Dr. Matar.

As one of UAEGDA’s leading partners, National Bonds Corporation PJSC takes responsibility towards its employees seriously and is working in association with UAEGDA to support the government’s campaign to eradicate thalassemia in the country by 2012.

“We are committed to stepping up the fight against thalassemia and working towards the health of the nation, both in terms of physical and financial wellbeing,” comments Mr. Mohammed Qasim Al Ali, CEO of National Bonds Corporation PJSC.

“By offering our employees UAEGDA’s free and confidential voluntary tests, we can ensure their own wellbeing as well as that of future generations.”

The UAE Genetic Diseases Association has been able to considerably reduce the impact of common genetic disorders prevalent in the country through its community outreach programs, health education, counseling and free screening tests. They also have a free genetic clinic equipped with a state-of-the-art screening facility supervised by internationally renowned experts.


Modhesh Friends Forum participants visit Dubai Thalassemia Center

July 30, 2010

Courtesy: albawaba.com

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.


Blood disorders prompt pre-marital tests in Oman

July 7, 2010

Courtesy: gulfnews.com

Muscat: A larger percentage of Oman’s population suffers from one or the other blood disorder, prompting health authorities in the country to consider pre-marital blood tests to bring down the number of such cases.

“About 58 per cent of citizens carry at least one of the blood disorders genes,” Dr Salam Al Kindi, SQU Head of Haematology, said at a press conference held at the Crown Plaza Muscat on Monday.

He pointed out that 47 per cent of the Omanis suffer from alpha Thalassemia gene, 5.5 per cent have sickle cell disease, and 2.62 have beta Thalassemia gene and 1.6 per cent have other haemoglobin variants.

“Now, Oman Hereditary Blood Disorder Association (OHBDA), together with the government, is slowly trying to introduce the aspect of pre-marital blood tests in the country,” says Dr Al Kindi.

“Up to 160 babies per year in Oman are born with sickle cell disease while 15 are born with Thalassemia, which proves the severity of this problem,” stressed Thuraya Bint Saif Bin Sultan Al Hosni, OHBDA Vice-president.

“One of the association’s main aim is to encourage pre-marriage genetic screening to reduce the number of new babies afflicted with these life threatening and terrible diseases,” she pointed out.

Sickle cell disease patients go through very severe pain attacks, chest infections and bone necroses, frequently needing hospitalisation to receive pain killers and other medications, which puts strain on the patient and their families.

Thalassemia patients require monthly blood transfusions and can face problems with their heart, lungs and spleen, which in many cases can prove fatal. Frequent attacks put patients and their families into stages of depression and sometimes lead to loose their work and quit schools.

“We do not discourage marriages, but we need people to go for pre-marital blood tests,” suggested Dr Al Kindi.

He said that it was only a single blood test that would reveal all diseases.


Cord blood service formally launched

June 15, 2010

Courtesy: gulf-times.com
Hamad Medical Corporation’s Women’s Hospital, which catered to as many as 15,553 births last year, has become the first public hospital in the region to offer a private cord blood banking programme involving extensive patient education.

The formal launch of the cord blood banking services, implemented in partnership with Virgin Health Bank-QSTP, was held yesterday at an event at HMC’s Hajar Auditorium.
Women’s Hospital executive director Nish Patel, VHB-QSTP CEO Dr Rajan Jethwa, Women’s Hospital’s obstetrics and gynaecology consultant Dr Arabo and other dignitaries were present.

“We are offering our patients and their families a whole new frontier of medical therapy through the cord blood banking services,” Patel stated on the occasion.

“Our goal is to reach families, especially mothers, and raise their awareness and enable them to make an informed decision,” he explained.

The official recalled that HMC and VHB QSTP had signed a Memorandum of Understanding in December 2009 to offer the service and initiated a comprehensive training programme in January this year for Women’s Hospital staff.

The programme is intended to provide families with the opportunity to purchase high quality cord blood stem cell storage should they wish to do so.

Dr Jethwa pointed out that umbilical cord blood stem cell transplants are today used to treat over 80 diseases, principally for conditions like leukaemias and blood disorders like beta thalassemia major and sickle cell anaemia.

It is also anticipated that in the future stem cells will form the basis of developments in regenerative medicine.
Families, who choose to have their babies delivered at the Women’s Hospital, can contract with VHB QSTP to bank their newborn’s cord blood for an initial period of 20 years, by paying a one-off charge of QR12,950.

“Our multilingual counselling team is available by telephone, e-mail or at Women’s Hospital, which is responsible for about 95% of births in Qatar, and specially trained personnel will collect the cord blood using best practice techniques,” Dr Jethwa said.

Information on the service is also available at Primary Health Centres, where expectant mothers go for antenatal care until the 32nd week of pregnancy, before being referred to the Women’s Hospital.

“The process of cord blood collection does not interfere with our clinical work,” Dr Arabo explained while observing that there is an increased demand the world over to store cord blood stem cells.

It was also clarified that in the process of cord blood banking, only adult stem cells are harvested so there are no ethical considerations and the process has been confirmed as being Shariah compliant.
In a message, HMC managing director Dr Hanan al-Kuwari maintained that HMC is always striving to deliver the highest quality standards of healthcare and the partnership with VHB-QSTP is an integral part of that endeavour. Until VHB-QSTP’s cord blood stem cell processing and cryogenic storage facility is ready by the end of this year, all cord blood units collected from Qatar will be taken to VHB’s facility in London.


Marriage Fund drive to prevent blood disorders calls for premarital tests

June 13, 2010

Courtesy: khaleejtimes.com

ABU DHABI — The Marriage Fund in Abu Dhabi has urged all residents, including nationals and expatriates, in the country to go for health screening before marriage and before planning a family to prevent certain diseases prevalent in the country.
The fund has launched a campaign, which will have media advertisements, lectures, meetings and workshops to reach the maximum number of individuals and families around the country.

Dr Maitha Al Shamsi, Minister of State and chairperson of the board of directors of the Marriage Fund, said at the launch recently that screening before marriage and before trying for children is vital to prevent diseases like thalassemia in the country.

The fund signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Health in June 2009 to promote premarital screening tests among Emiratis and expatriates and inviting them for counselling programmes.

“We aim to promote premarital and preconceiving tests for people because genetic blood disorders are transmitted from parents to their children. It creates psychological and social difficulties for the patient and the family as well as hampering the child’s happiness in life,” Al Shamsi said.

Premarital testing can prevent 60 per cent of congenital anomalies and about 100 per cent of commonly inherited blood disorders like thalassemia and sickle cell anaemia in the country.

During its campaign, the fund would emphasise on issues related to social affairs, health, and psychological influences in people’s lives which occur due to marital problems and the individual’s biological features that impact family’s stability and their intimacy.

Talking to Khaleej Times, Dr Mohammed Naveed, consultant geneticist and director of the UAE Genetic Diseases Association, said there are approximately 1,200 cases of thalassemia between ages of three months to 35 years. Every week, one child is born with blood disorder in the UAE.

The Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation (ADMAF) has also extended its support to the fund in launching a nationwide health awareness campaign targeting thalassemia patients.

The campaign will distribute leaflets and brochures in schools, colleges, educational and health institutions, and offices. The fund, with the support of ADMAF, has also produced a film to provide information about the disease, its consequences and steps that can be taken to prevent thalassemia.

Sickle cell anaemia is the most common inherited blood disorder in the GCC, affecting about 1.9 per cent people in the UAE, 5.2 per cent in Saudi Arabia, 3.8 per cent in Oman and 2.1 per cent in Bahrain.

Screening will reduce mother-to-child transmission of some infectious diseases that might lead to congenital death, Al Shamsi said.


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