Dubai’s first organ transplant gives Emirati mother a new lease on life

The recipient is an Emirati mother of two whose kidneys had failed because of her diabetes.

Transporting life. An organ is delivered to medical staff to enable the first organ transplant surgery to be carried out in Dubai. Courtesy Dubai Media office
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DUBAI // Surgeons in Dubai have carried out the emirate’s first organ transplant.

The recipient is an Emirati mother of two whose kidneys had failed because of her diabetes. The donor kidney came from the Saudi Centre for Organ Transplantation in Riyadh, the hub for organ transplants in the Arabian Gulf.

The operation took place on June 8 at the Mediclinic City Hospital in Dubai and the woman, 29, is now recovering.

“Having the confidence that my home country has the expertise in organ transplantation brought me much relief because I could undergo surgery, here at home, surrounded by my loved ones,” she said.

In the year before the operation, she required four hours of dialysis three times a week. “This surgery has given me a new lease of life, not only because I can be healthy again but also because it has given me the opportunity to bring a new life into this world … I would love to have my third child after I recover.”

She urged people to sign up to be an organ donor because it would be “giving life – not only for one individual, but for a whole family”.

There have been more than 100 kidney transplants in Abu Dhabi, but this was Dubai’s first. The emirate’s organ transplant programme is a partnership between the hospital and Mohammed bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences.

The surgery team was led by Dr David Hickey, former head of the transplant programme in Ireland, and Dr Farhad Janahi, consultant urologist and assistant professor at the university.

The programme would “position the UAE as a prominent centre for organ transplantation”, said Dr Amer Sharif, chief executive of Dubai Healthcare City Authority.

“The success of the first organ transplant in Dubai is the first step in this new era,” Dr Sharif said.

Christian Schuhmacher, director of Mediclinic City Hospital, said the transplant “heralds a new era in surgery in Dubai and gives new hope to many who are reliant on an organ transplant to restore their quality of life”.

In the past two years, the university has prepared for the launch of the programme with a national survey on organ donation, an organ transplant conference in October last year and an organ donation forum last month.

Lawyer Huda Alfalamarzy said there were still legal issues surrounding transplants that had to be addressed. “Maybe the underprivileged in different countries can try to sell body parts – rules and conditions have to be set out,” she said.

“We need to be very careful so people don’t misuse this system.”

Dr Wafa Nabhane, an endocrinologist at NMC Royal Hospital, said transplants were necessary because of the prevalence of diabetes.

“The leading causes of kidney failure are diabetes and hypertension. About a third of diabetics suffer from kidney-related disorders.

“Having a transplant in your home country, where you have your support network, is extremely helpful.”