RIYADH: Saudi Arabia emerged as the first country in the Arab world to record more than 10,000 stem cell donors, a unique medical feat that will encourage people to donate stem cells and promote stem cell therapy in the Kingdom to help people suffering with incurable diseases.
"The King Abdullah International Medical Research Center (KAIMRC) at the Ministry of National Guard has succeeded in attracting more than 10,000 donors of stem cells until now, thanks to the intensive campaigns organized in various regions of the Kingdom to raise awareness of the role of the donor in saving the lives of a number of people with incurable diseases,” said an official at the National Guard Health Affairs (NGHA).
“The Kingdom’s record is unique and the first of its kind in the Middle East because of the lack of any Arab record of stem cells in the region, despite the presence of 60 records in other parts of the world with millions of donors worldwide,” he said.
To this end, Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide (BMDW) and the World Marrow Donor Association (WMDA) recently announced that a record 25 million people worldwide are currently listed as potential volunteer marrow donors in hopes of saving the lives of those battling life-threatening blood cancers and other incurable diseases.
Significantly, WMDA initiated a new movement “World Marrow Donor Day,” observed every year on the third Saturday of September, to raise awareness about stem cell donation among people.
KAIMRC, the medical research body for health affairs in the Ministry of National Guard, which aims to provide a specialized scientific environment supporting clinical research, started recording donors of stem cells in 2011, setting up the first national bone marrow donor registry in the Kingdom, in order to provide relevant data for patients with intractable diseases in order to facilitate them with stem cell therapy.
A stem cell transplant, also known as a bone marrow transplant, is a clinical procedure in which diseased bone marrow is replaced by highly specialized stem cells that develop into healthy bone marrow. There are two main types of stem cell transplants, autologous in which the patient receives his or her own stem cells, and allogeneic in which stem cells are donated by other person.
Bone marrow stem cells are collected in the process called bone marrow harvesting and it is done in a surgical theater after the donor is put under general anesthesia; marrow cells are then taken from the back of the pelvic bone.
Notably, a marrow or stem cell transplant is a potentially lifesaving treatment for more than 70 different diseases, including leukemia and lymphoma, whereas other diseases include aplastic anemia, myelodysplastic syndrome, inherited immune deficiency disorders and inherited metabolic disorders.
Rashid Hassan - Arab News