Dubai, January 2012 



"It was a turning point in the history of the centre," said Dr. Essam Dohair, outreach co-ordinator for the Thalassaemia Centre at Dubai's Latifa Hospital, of the visit made by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the The United Arab Emirates, UAE, and Ruler of Dubai.


The same day, more than 200 people came to the hospital to donate blood, Dr. Dohair told Gulf News. "The next day we had more than 500 donors and the day after, more than 700. On a regular day, we have 50-60 donors," he said.


The patients at the Thalassaemia Centre were extremely happy, said Dr. Dohair who has been with the centre for the past 23 years. "The visit was a surprise. His Highness first visited the Thalassaemia Centre to talk to the patients, and then visited the blood donation centre. The patients later expressed how valued they felt because their leader has donated blood for his people."


Madiha Ameen, a Pakistani national, has been visiting the Thalassaemia Centre for the past 26 years to receive 3-4 units of blood every three weeks. She told Gulf News, "My appointment was on the next day of our Ruler's visit. I saw donors from official organisations like the navy, police and the army. I was thrilled. If a leader of an emirate can take time out from his schedule to donate, everyone can."


It is the estimated that 8.33% of the total UAE populationare  carrying the gene for thalassaemia. 50-60 individuals donate blood for thalassaemia patients on average each day at Latifa Hospital 70 million people or more worldwide are afflicted with beta-thalassaemia minor, as per 2010 estimates.