An expert multi-disciplinary team from the National Center for Cancer Care and Research (NCCCR), a member of Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), has performed Qatar’s first allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allogeneic -HSCT) on a 32-year-old female patient diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, an aggressive form of blood cancer.
The patient, a mother of four, was diagnosed with myeloid leukemia (AML) earlier this year after noticing unexplained bruising on her upper and lower limbs. She visited her doctor and underwent blood tests which revealed hyper leukocytosis – an indication of myeloid leukemia (AML). She was quickly admitted to NCCCR where she underwent a bone marrow exam which confirmed the suspected diagnosis of myeloid leukemia (AML).
Doctors at NCCCR responsible for the patient’s care identified an allogeneic stem cell transplantation as the best treatment option; however, as the stem cells used in the procedure need to come from a (genetically similar) healthy person, a close blood relative was needed as a donor. Two of the patient’s brothers volunteered to be potential donors and were tested to check their suitability. The eldest brother was found to be the most suitable potential donor and was prepared for the procedure. The patient is now recovering well and will be discharged soon.
Her Excellency Dr. Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari, the Minister of Public Health, along with Dr. Abdulla Al Ansari, HMC’s Acting Chief Medical Officer, and other senior leaders from HMC, visited the patient after the transplantation. Her Excellency spoke with the patient and thanked the clinical team members involved in making the procedure a success.
Commenting on the success of the procedure, which is the first of its kind in Qatar, Her Excellency said: “Allogeneic stem cell transplantation represents a new milestone in our efforts to provide the very best cancer care and treatment in Qatar. The procedure’s success underlines our ongoing journey to combat cancers of the blood with the most advanced treatment modalities. Significant advances have been made throughout Qatar. We now take on the challenge of making further advances in developing our knowledge and expertise in cancer prevention and treatment to decrease the incidence of cancer in Qatar and increase survival rates, ultimately aiming to free our population from this often-devastating disease.’’
Allogeneic stem cell transplantation involves the transfer of stem cells from a genetically similar healthy person (known as the donor), to a patient (known as the recipient), following high-intensity chemotherapy or radiation. It is used to eliminate cancer and restore a patient's blood and immune systems. Due to the time it takes to build the immune system back up after the transplant, several months of close expert monitoring are needed to prevent complications following the procedure.
Commenting on the procedure’s success, Professor Karl Alexander Knuth, Medical Director at NCCCR, said: “This is a major step in HMC’s ongoing success in developing advanced treatment options for cancer patients. The availability of stem cell transplantation for the treatment of malignant diseases of the blood and bone marrow today means that our patients can now receive their treatment here in Qatar without needing to travel abroad.”
Dr. Abdulla Al Ansari echoed Professor Knuth’s comments, adding: “HMC is committed to developing excellence in comprehensive cancer care services in Qatar through the integration of clinical care, research, and education at all levels and across all specialties and services, as required by Qatar’s National Cancer Framework 2017-2022.”