“Ali’s healing journey to Chicago”

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Tuesday, March 19th 2013 [ME NewsWire]

When 12-year-old Ali Al-Mammari, from Al-Ain, arrived in Chicago last June, he was in so much pain he could barely walk. By September, when he returned to the United Arab Emirates, he was running, riding a bicycle and playing soccer.

“He was so much more mobile when he left than when he arrived” said Kelly Kramer, advanced practice nurse for the pediatric bone marrow transplant program at the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital. “And he no longer had any pain.”

Ali came to Chicago for a bone marrow transplant, the only curative treatment for his severe sickle cell anemia. This uncommon inherited disorder can cause problems ranging from moderate discomfort to profound, lasting pain, widespread tissue damage, stroke and death. Ali had the most severe form of the disease.

Ali’s disease had damaged his hips and his shoulders, making it impossible for him to walk without help. His physician at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Abu Dhabi determined that Ali will benefit from a bone marrow transplant. The disease had taken over his life.

In collaboration with Dr. John Cunningham, a stem cell transplant specialist at the University of Chicago, Ali’s physicians started planning his trip to Chicago to receive a transplant.  

When the family arrived, Cunningham’s team determined that Ali was a good candidate for a transplant and that his brother Omar, 11, was an ideal donor.

“Although it is rare for patients with sickle cell disease to need a transplant, our team has performed more than 40,” said Cunningham. “Few programs worldwide have as much experience.”

After years of illness and two months in the hospital, Ali needed help to regain his strength and coordination. He received that help at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC), ranked the #1 Rehabilitation Center in the United States.

Under the guidance of Dr. Gadi Revivo at RIC, Ali’s treatment included daily exercises and therapy sessions.

“Ali had pain in his left shoulder and right hip,” Revivo said. “His goal was to play soccer again, so we worked with him on strength and flexibility, but also on dribbling the ball, age-appropriate functional goals.”

“He worked very diligently and recovered well,” Revivo added. “Dr. Cunningham was wise to begin rehabilitation early in the process.”

Kramer said it was exciting to watch Ali get better. “He was miserable when we first met, but he soon became a joy to work with,” she said. “Although Ali spoke very little English, he could tell he was progressing just by looking at his face.”

Indeed he felt well enough to play a trick on her. She challenged him to a game of tic-tac-toe. He had never heard of the game. After explanation, they played a few games. “He defeated me again and again,” Kramer said. “He just called it X’s and O’s.”

If you wish to inquire about either center in Chicago, you may contact UCM at international.services@uchospitals.edu, or 773 702 0506.


Contacts

Dr. Ali Fahim

Tel: +971 4 4327969

 

 

 

 


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