Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) announced that a highly specialized team of clinicians at the National Center for Cancer Care and Research (NCCCR) has successfully performed the first stem cell transplants in the country in a significant development for Qatar in treating blood cancers.
The procedure was carried out on two expatriates who have an aggressive form of blood cancer, called myeloma.
Stem cell transplant is a highly effective therapy and often the only hope for a cure or for a longer life for patients with blood cancers. At HMC, the program started off by using the patients' own stem cells for transplant, known as autologous transplant. The healthy stem cells were collected from the patients' blood using a special mobilization process and equipment.
This process being undertaken at NCCCR is the more advanced technique, and it is the most convenient and safe method for the patient. The preparation of the patients took days and the procedures took several hours and required the involvement of highly trained expert staff. Once the harvest of cells was completed, the patients had a break while the cells were examined and stored properly, then they were admitted to hospital for a high dose of chemotherapy that killed off their bone marrow, followed by a transplant. The healthy cells that were harvested were transplanted back into their system to enable healthy, disease-free bone marrow to grow.
"We have been working on the development of the Stem Cell Transplant Program at Hamad for some time now," HMC Managing Director Dr. Hanan Al Kuwari said in a speech given on her behalf at a press conference by HMC Executive Director of Corporate Communications Ali Abdulla Al Khater. "Up until now, patients who would benefit from this type of advanced treatment would have to have been treated abroad. This increased their risk of infection, due to the travel involved, and meant the recovery time was longer than it would be if we were able to treat them here in Qatar. As such, this is a tremendous step forward for Hamad as an academic healthcare provider and for our blood cancer patients who are in real need of this highly specialized treatment," she added.
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