A Keralite doctor in Abu Dhabi wrote himself into record books when he performed the first paediatric stem cell bone marrow transplant in the UAE.

Dr Zainul Aabideen, a native of Kannur, presently Head of the Department of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at Burjeel Medical City successfully performed the advanced allogeneic procedure on a five-year-old girl from Uganda with sickle cell disease. Billed as the first such surgery done in the UAE, the patient’s 10-year- old sister donated her bone marrow for the transplant treatment at Burjeel Medical City, a flagship hospital of VPS Healthcare. Sickle cell disease is a genetic disorder, which results in an abnormality in the haemoglobin found in red blood cells, causing them to become sickle-shaped and leading to several complications including anaemia, swelling in the hands and feet, frequent pain, acute chest syndrome, and sometimes stroke.

Prior to the treatment, the child has been regularly admitted to the hospital due to complications arising from her disease since birth.


“As this was a life-threatening condition, the only curative option was bone marrow transplantation.Before this procedure, the patient suffered a lot. The entire care team here at the hospital and the child’s parents are delighted that the transplant will relieve this pain from her life,” said Zainul Aabideen, who headed a team of highly specialised doctors, including a paediatric intensive care team, for the procedure. The patient has responded well to the treatment and will be discharged in a few days after a five-week stay at the hospital.

Earlier, paediatric patients in the UAE who had to undergo allogeneic stem cell bone marrow transplants travelled to the US, the UK, India, and other European countries. Zainul Aabideen, Completed his MBBS from Calicut University in Kerala and a postgraduate degree in Paediatrics from the University of Mumbai. He then moved to the United Kingdom to specialise and undertake further training in paediatric haematology, paediatric oncology, and paediatric bone marrow transplantation in various hospitals in the UK.