08 JUNE 2021

Up Close & Personal with Dr Dawn Mya Hae Tha

Contributed by: Dr Dawn Mya Hae Tha

Up Close and Personal with New HAEM Doctor

Earlier this year, the Centre welcomed a new addition to the Haematology team with Dr Dawn Mya Hae Tha, whose area of expertise covers different areas of Haematology. As part of the 15th Anniversary special, we get up close and personal with Dr Dawn to learn more about her interests and contributions to the team.

Tell us about yourself

I am a haematologist, taking care of patients with blood disorders.

During my training years at Singapore General Hospital, I was appointed to the Haematology ward as a medical officer. The very first patient I encountered on my first day there was a young man who was newly diagnosed with acute leukaemia.

He was very sick with bleeding and ongoing infections. To save him was extremely challenging for the team. There were a lot of fine balances between the benefits and risks of the treatment involved. Fortunately, he was cured from the disease after a hospital stay, a few rounds of chemotherapy and a blood stem cell transplant from his brother.

From then on, I was pulled into the field of haematology. The more knowledge and experienced I gained on the subject, the more interesting it became. Today, I am a haematologist who is still intrigued by the nature of haematological diseases and advances in the field.

Why did you specialise in haematology?

Haematology is an interesting speciality. It encompasses vastly diverse blood disorders including malignant and benign conditions. It also includes laboratory haematology, the diagnostic aspect of blood diseases.

I find it very exciting to be drawn into different areas of the specialty every day. The laboratory training also gives me an opportunity to delve into deeper understanding of the disease processes. It lets me become a detective, chasing after clues that are present in the blood.

What does your typical day look like?

A typical day starts at 8.30 in the morning. I will see the patients in the ward first and then I will run my clinic.

Clinic sessions usually involve outpatient consultations and family conferences. Sometimes, I also carry out procedures like bone marrow aspiration and biopsy, or lumbar puncture for some patients for diagnosis or for assessment of post-treatment response.

In between clinic sessions, I may return to the ward if I have patients referred to me for a haematology consult by my colleagues. On days where I have more free time, I will catch up with my friends and colleagues in the hospital over coffee or lunch.

How would you describe your working relationship with patients?

Many patients suffering from blood cancers stay with us for a long time. As a result, many visits are needed. A hospital stay can be as lengthy as a month or more for some treatments like stem cell transplants. Over this extended period, we can become very close to each other. Hence, I always try my best to be approachable while being professional at the same time.

Understanding the patients not only from the medical aspect, but from the psychosocial aspect is also very important in treating blood cancer patients. Only then can we achieve a realistic and optimal goal together.

Joining a new medical centre can be as nerve-wracking as starting any new job. What keeps you going?

It is simple for me. My patients and Haematology keep me going throughout my career. I am definitely anxious but at the same time excited to work in a new environment.

What do you hope to bring to PCC during its 15th year?

I am honoured to be able to join PCC during a significant year in its history. By joining PCC, I hope to give the patients in PCC another compassionate and competent haematologist, and at the same time, be to my PCC colleagues another responsible and trusted colleague-cum-friend.

POSTED IN Upclose and Personal
TAGS blood cancer, blood disorders, bone marrow, cancer doctor stories, stem cell therapy