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1st Emirates Paediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Congress explores future of bone marrow transplantation in children May 27, 2022

ABU DHABI, 27th May, 2022 (WAM) -- Over 2,500 experts and specialists in paediatrics, paediatric oncology and haematology from the UAE and abroad gathered today in Abu Dhabi for the 1st Emirates Paediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Congress in Abu Dhabi.

The three-day hybrid event brings together experts and specialists in paediatric oncology and haematology from around the world, and is also seeing prestigious international participation from children’s hospitals in Philadelphia, Boston and Cincinnati. Attendees have the opportunity to attend 12 panel discussions featuring 43 presentation and more than 44 speakers from 37 countries.

Dr. Fatima Al Kaabi, Director of the Abu Dhabi Bone Marrow Transplant Program at the Abu Dhabi Stem Cell Center, said: "Abu Dhabi is currently distinguished by the application of the highest standards used in the treatment of bone marrow transplantation, which are followed in the latest medical centers abroad, and providing these distinguished services in the country makes it easier for us as specialists in this field to provide Medical care for the cases that you need while staying in the family environment and providing psychological support in addition to reducing costs compared to treatment abroad.

''We expect, during the next two years, with the presence of bone marrow transplants for children, to reduce the request for treatment abroad for these cases to 50%.'' Dr. Shamsheer Vayalil, Chairman and Managing Director, VPS Healthcare, said in his opening speech: "The conference and the theme is a critical and timely one as it highlights the significant improvements in the care and delivery of therapies for the some of the complex diseases afflicting children around the world.

''Pediatric cancer care faces a perfect storm: an existing and expected increased incidence, growing numbers of survivors with ongoing care needs, and continued scientific advancements, offering remarkable promise, but often at extraordinary cost. As an example, with the promise of lifelong cure, cell therapies can have estimated costs ranging from $100,000 to over a million. In addition to actual cost of the therapy, there is a cascade of costs with this therapy, including supportive care, intensive and extensive hospital care, and potential downstream cancer care.'' Dr Zainul Aabideen, Head of Paediatric Haematology and Oncology Consultant at Burjeel Medical City and Chairman of the Congress, announced that Burjeel Medical City had performed the UAE’s first bone marrow transplant from a donor to a child with thalassemia, a genetic defect in the composition of haemoglobin and one of the most common blood disorders among children, which requires blood transfusions from time to time. Detailing about the case study, it was revealed that the patient was a 3-year-old child who had been suffering from the blood disorder since birth and had travelled from Iraq to the UAE to receive the treatment. Dr. Zainul further reiterated that the procedure is a new achievement in the UAE , He also presented the first children’s bone marrow transplant from a donor in the UAE, which was performed at Burjeel Medical City for a girl from Uganda with sickle cell anaemia.

which helps solidify the UAE’s status as an important destination for medical tourism.

On the first day of the Congress, participants discussed bone marrow transplantation and its importance as a main treatment in tumours and genetic blood diseases such as thalassemia, and Primary immunodeficiency disease.

Furthermore, speakers discussed the importance of bone marrow transplantation from a donor for leukaemia patients. They also discussed the role of bone marrow transplantation for non-malignant blood diseases such as sickle cell anaemia, and the use of stem cells in the treatment of these conditions, in addition to how to prepare paediatric patients for bone marrow transplants, and the importance of the post-transplant care programme.

Speaking about the growing influence of the UAE as a healthcare destination, Dr. Zainul Aabideen said that, "in the past, patients in the UAE needed to travel abroad in order to obtain treatment through bone marrow transplantation, which is a limited specialty, but now, and after our success in performing stem cells transplant procedures in the UAE, there is a new hope for many patients to obtain this kind of procedures without the need to travel."

Dr Rupert Co, cochairman of the organizing committee and scientific committee, spoke about future of bone marrow transplantation in children.

Dr. Mansi Sachdev, Paediatric Haematology and Bone Marrow Transplant Consultant at Burjeel Medical City, spoke about Graft Versus and Host disease which is potential and common complication during allogenic bone marrow transplantation.

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