Eight-year-old Hamad, from the United Arab Emirates, was cured of sickle cell disease using his younger brother’s cord blood stem cells. His life changing treatment demonstrates the importance of collecting and storing your child’s umbilical cord blood at birth for potential use in the future.
Sickle cell disease is one of the most common inherited blood disorders in the UAE. So much so, that the country has one of the highest frequencies of the disease in the world. Sickle cell disease affects the shape of red blood cells, where they are crescent shaped instead of disk shaped. This causes the cells to stick together and block small blood vessels, resulting in pain, infection and organ damage. Sickle cells are also unable to transport oxygen around the body properly, which leads to chronic anaemia, shortness of breath and fatigue.
Hamad’s family decided to store the cord blood from their newborn son, Abdullah, to improve their eldest son’s quality of life. The transplantation of blood-forming stem cells is the only known cure for sickle cell disease, and is particularly effective in children and young adults.
Cord blood stem cell transplants between siblings have an even greater success rate; resulting in almost 90% of patients becoming sickle cell disease-free.
Hamad underwent transplant using his brother’s cord blood stem cells in June 2017 at the United States Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, where the stem cell sample had been stored and tested to strict AABB and FDA standards.
A year on, Hamad is totally cured of sickle cell disease and living a happy, healthy life back in Abu Dhabi.