Families and children recall pediatric bone marrow transplant journeys at an emotional reunion


The children belonging to 10 different nationalities and their families gathered at Burjeel Medical City to share their transformative stories

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Published: Wed 22 Mar 2023, 3:43 PM

Last updated: Wed 22 Mar 2023, 5:25 PM

When she was diagnosed with Sickle Cell Disease, little Jordana’s life had turned upside down until she was able to receive an allogeneic bone marrow transplant (BMT) in 2022. Recalling the difficult journey, her mother Florence highlighted the emotional trauma the entire family had undergone until the child received life-saving treatment in the UAE. Today, the five-year-old Ugandan national is a happy, bubbly child who gets to lead a normal life like others her age. Florence is full of praise for the UAE that has extended support to children like Jordana. They were among the 18 patients and their families who had come together in Abu Dhabi’s Burjeel Medical City to mark the anniversary of the first pediatric BMT performed in the country.

“My child has a new lease on life because of the unmatched care provided by the UAE. It was indeed a challenging time for us, but we were able to overcome it, thanks to the steadfast support we received. We are indebted to the authorities and doctors who have extended their assistance and made this treatment affordable for us. We are proud to call the UAE our second home,” recalled an emotional Florence.

Like Jordana and Florence, families from 10 countries including Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Morocco, Syria, Sudan, Uganda, India, and Pakistan shared similar heartwarming experiences. All of these children had undergone transplants in Burjeel Medical City following the success of Jordana’s procedure in last March. 11-year-old Nahl was diagnosed with leukemia in 2022. She recalled her initial shock upon learning about her disease but said she later drew strength from the encouragement of her family and doctors.

Nahl’s father was brimming with happiness as he addressed the gathering. “If Nahl is with us today, it is only because of the almighty and the exceptional care she received. Words cannot express my gratitude to the doctors and the authorities who facilitated this treatment for her,” said Khalid Fayyaz.

Medical experts, officials, and representatives of the top charitable organisations including Emirates Red Crescent and The Rahma Cancer Patient Care Society were present during the occasion. The attendees discussed the requirements of children awaiting BMTs and explored ways to streamline offerings. Ali Al Shamsi, director general of The Rahma Cancer Patient Care Society, assured an increased focus on pediatric BMTs.

Dr Hawaa Althahak Almansoori, a member of the UAE's Federal National Council, said such gatherings would help enhance the processes of assisting cancer patients. “Thanks to our wise leadership, the UAE is, and will always be, a beacon of shared humanity and global fraternity. Each and every day we continue to strive as individuals and as teams, like you here today, to bring to bear the resources and expertise that we have been blessed with in order to better the lives of our brothers and sisters around the world,” said Dr Almansoori, who thanked the patients' families for keeping hope alive in the fight against cancer.

Dr Shamsheer Vayalil, founder and chairman at Burjeel Holdings, John Sunil, CEO, Burjeel Holdings, Prof Humaid Al Shamsi, consultant and director of oncology, Burjeel Holdings, and Dr Mansi Sachdev, consultant pediatric hematology, oncology and BMT, Burjeel Medical City, interacted with the families and officials who attended the gathering. The hospital management and the children’s families thanked the UAE authorities and charitable organisations for extending year-long support to BMT patients.

“In the last year, we have performed allogenic and autologous transplants in patients with leukemia, thalassemia, sickle cell disease, primary immunodeficiency, and HLH. This year, we look forward to offering 50 pediatric BMTs. We are thankful to the authorities and our partners for their continued support,” said Dr Zainul Aabideen, HOD, pediatric hematology, oncology and BMT, Burjeel Medical City.

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