The first bone marrow transplant in the history of Iraq

kurdistan“What it has been doing at the Hiwa Cancer Hospital doesn’t deal only with the current emergency but also with the future of entire families. Thanks to a top-level scientific intervention, the local staff is learning to undertake the activity of Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) at very low coasts”.

This is the Italian Ambassador in Iraq, Mr. Marco Carnelos, during his visit to the Hiwa Cancer Hospital of Sulaymaniyah (Kurdistan region of Iraq) on 16th October. The BMT Centre of the hospital is started-up with the support of an ICU project funded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) that involves prof. Ignazio Majolino and a team of experienced colleagues in the field of Bone Marrow Transplant.

The staff of Hiwa Hospital is already capable to perform the so-called “autologous” transplant in full autonomy. Only four months ago, the first transplant of hematopoietic stem cells took place. In the meantime, the operations for the so-called “allogeneic” transplant (from a living donor) have been already started. On 8th October, the little girl Asuda, affected by Thalassemia, was the first patient ever to undergo an allogeneic transplant in the whole Iraq. After more than three weeks of stay in an isolation unit, Asuda’s bone marrow successfully engrafted and the little girl was discharged on 2nd November.

“To perform these transplant abroad is very expensive – stated the Ambassador – families have to follow the patients for months. If performed in Kurdistan, instead, it would be much more cheap and it would mean to keep patients close to their relatives”.

The allogeneic transplant represents one of the most efficient chance to cure inherited diseases like Thalassemia or Plastic Anaemia, and blood cancer like Leukemia. Not only Kurdish people, but also the more than 20.000 Syrian Refugees and 250.000 Displaced people currently settled in the province of Sulaymaniyah could benefit from the cures offered by Hiwa Hospital free of charge. Due to the recent military operations in the Mosul area, the international community foresees the inflow of more than one Million people to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, and those should be hosted in the camps ready for them. Among them, there could be also someone who needs onco-hematological care: from now on, they can count on one more chance at the Hiwa Cancer Hospital of Sulaymaniyah.

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