Young Emirati gets 1-in-50,000 life-threatening illness

By Sheena Amos

ABU DHABI 9 September 2017: Physicians at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi have successfully diagnosed and begun treatment on a patient with a rare immunodeficiency disorder.

The patient, a 27-year-old UAE national, had been suffering from Hereditary Angioedema (HAE), a potentially life-threatening, inherited blood disorder, which is thought to occur in just one in 50,000 people.

Suffering from chronic severe abdominal pain and swelling in his hands and feet over a five-year period, the patient, Ibrahim Yaqoub Ibrahim Alali, sought help from a number of hospitals before being referred to Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Medical Subspecialties Institute, said Wam.

“This patient is the first UAE national to be diagnosed with this rare immunodeficiency at this hospital,” explained Dr. Mohamed Abuzakouk, Consultant in Clinical Immunology and Allergy, who treated the patient. “According to reported ranges, Hereditary Angioedema (HAE) affects between one in 10,000 and one in 150,000 people around the world.”

“Moreover, there are two types of HAE, and type one is more common affecting between 80-85 percent of patients. Type two only occurs in the remaining 15-20 percent. Our patient had type two HAE, the rare form of this condition,” Dr. Abuzakouk added.

Symptoms of the rare disorder include swelling in the face, larynx, and elsewhere, along with severe, colic-like abdominal pain. However, when properly treated, patients can generally live long, symptom-free lives.

For Alali, the correct diagnosis and beginning of treatment has brought immediate relief. “I had been suffering from periods of very bad pain for years and my quality of life was very poor. In the last year, I was visiting the emergency department four times a week and had started to lose hope that I would ever feel better,” he said.

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“The patient had previously visited several hospitals and undergone a multitude of complicated and sometimes invasive medical tests that had not helped determine his condition. He was brought to Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s emergency department during one of his episodes of abdominal pain and subsequently underwent extensive immunological assessment and was successfully diagnosed before commencing the appropriate treatment,” said Dr. Abuzakouk.

The case highlights the value of Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s multidisciplinary approach, which brings together experts from across a range of fields to tackle complex cases. The hospital’s Medical Subspecialties Institute covers nine specialties and deploys advanced laboratory testing facilities to cover a broad spectrum of medical needs including rare immunological disorders.

In addition, the diagnosis of this rare condition was made possible by the hospital’s strong international connections with institutions like the US-based Cleveland Clinic and other healthcare leaders around the world.