- In observance of World Blood Donor Day, SEHA, Abu Dhabi Blood Banks Services (ADBBS) and Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC) hosted an event to honor blood donors
- During the event, held at SSMC, two patients shared their stories of successful blood transfusions
- Among the honorees were donors who have contributed blood an average of 40 times over their lifetime
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. June 15, 2021: Abu Dhabi Health Services Company, (SEHA), the UAE’s largest healthcare network, celebrated World Blood Donor Day, observed annually on June 14, with a celebratory event, in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Blood Bank Services (ADBBS) and Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC).
During the event, held at SSMC – one of the UAE’s largest hospitals for serious and complex care and a joint-venture partnership between SEHA and Mayo Clinic, 20 donors were acclaimed for their regular contributions to ADBBS and improving the availability of blood units readily accessible for patients who require regular or spontaneous blood transfusions. ADBBS also recognized 15 companies for regularly empowering their workforce to donate, as well as ADBBS and SSMC employees for their contributions.
This year, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the theme “Give blood and keep the world beating”, highlighting the essential contribution blood donors make to keep the world alive by saving lives and improving others’ health. It also reinforces the global call for more people worldwide to donate blood regularly and contribute to better health.
Dr. Marwan Al Kaabi, Acting Chief Operations Officer, SEHA, said: “The provision of safe blood and blood components is a fundamental element to any successful healthcare system, and at the core of a sufficient blood bank, is the community. It is our responsibility, each one of us, to play a role in nurturing the availability of the lifeline for our families, loved ones, neighbors, and people we may not know. There is no greater feeling than contributing to the recovery of one who is in need, which is why we call on the people of Abu Dhabi to donate, promising you that we will diligently ensure a safe, reliable, and seamless process for blood collection.”
During 2020, ADBBS – the sole provider of blood transfusion services in Abu Dhabi – welcomed around 55,000 donors and collected around 60,000 units of blood that made an important impact on the lives of thousands of patients receiving critical and emergency care. Of those patients is KAB, a female patient diagnosed with a form of thalassemia, an inherited blood disorder that causes a shortage of hemoglobin (a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to the body’s organs and tissues and transports carbon dioxide from the organs and tissues back to the lungs) in the body.
Following bariatric surgery, KAB had low blood iron worsening her condition and requiring her to have 4-5 blood transfusions a year for 10 years. Because of an extremely rare type of antibodies in her body caused by her condition, it became increasingly difficult for her to find suitable blood, even from her siblings. Thanks to the commitment of the medical team at SSMC, comprising Dr. Shahrukh Hashmi, Department Chair of Hematology & Oncology and former Director of BMT LTFU/Survivorship Clinic at Mayo Clinic, Minnesota, and Dr. Hiba AlHumaidan, consultant pathologist/Transfusion Medicine lead, and ADBBS. The team tested hundreds of units from hundreds of donors to identify two units compatible with her rare profile. These units were in preparation for any need that may be encountered particularly during childbirth for her and/or her unborn child. During her delivery, the team at SSMC were prepared to use the cell salvage machine, a unique solution that involves having the patient’s blood collected, filtered, washed, and recirculated back to her. This multidisciplinary approach in the management of all decisions surrounding the patient’s transfusion needs is called patient blood management.
“Thanks to the diligence of both ABBS and SSMC staff, and their quick thinking to find me a solution before my delivery, I was able to get through delivery safely. I am so grateful for the people with my rare blood type who donated, I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for them, and I heartily encourage others to regularly donate and contribute to saving lives,” said KAB.
Dr. Naser Ammash, Chief Executive Officer, SSMC, said: “As part of our commitment to serve the needs of our patients at all times, we are working closely with our colleagues at SEHA and ADBBS to ensure our patient’s needs for blood and blood components are seamlessly met. Yesterday’s event provided the perfect platform for us to raise public awareness, celebrate recent successes, share our experiences, and collaborate on further improving the blood donation capabilities and processes available in the capital.”
During the past year, ADBBS transformed its facilities and blood collection processes to ensure the protection of donors amidst the pandemic. Thanks to the ongoing commitment of donors, ADBBS continued to cater to the needs of the healthcare facilities and centers across the capital, and as a result, all emergency and scheduled procedures continued as normal. ADBBS also pioneered the Frozen Red Blood Cells project at the start of the year, the first of its kind in the UAE that extends the lifespan of red blood cells to 10 years, and by extension, creates a significant stockpile of frozen blood ready for any scenario.
Dr. Huda Al Shamsi, Director, ADBBS, said: “We are exceptionally grateful to all those who continued providing blood during the pandemic; their commitment to lending a helping hand significantly supported us as we strived to ensure sufficient stock to meet ongoing and emergent needs. Each unit of donated blood can impact the lives of three patients – with the enduring support of our regular donors, and by encouraging other members of the community to contribute, we can collectively safeguard the health and wellbeing of our patients and make a tangible difference in their recovery journeys.”
ADBBS was established in 2020 and is overseen by the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DOH) and managed by SEHA. Last month, ADBBS introduced a new blood donation center in Zayed City, Al Dhafra, to allow residents of the region the opportunity to donate closer to home. As the provider of blood components and transfusion-related medical services across the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, ADBBS also recently pioneered the transfusion of washed platelets to save a patient’s life in April.
For more information about ADBBS and donation venues, please click here.