An anonymous kidney donor saved the life of an Emirati teenager in Dubai, whose mother had already donated one of hers to the boy's sister.
Eissa Abdul Malik, 15, suffered kidney failure in 2019 and was immediately placed on the transplant list.
His mother, Maryam, could not donate a kidney as she had already provided one for Eissa's 24-year-old sister.
Eissa was left to wait almost a year for a life-saving replacement. A suitable organ was found and, in October, doctors at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi performed the four-hour transplant surgery.
The teenager is now almost fully recovered and is looking forward to hitting the basketball court with friends.
“All of my children, three boys and a girl, suffer from kidney issues,” said Maryam, who encouraged others to join the UAE organ transplant registry.
“Each one started experiencing health problems at a different age.
“I had already donated a kidney to my daughter and none of my family members were in a position to donate to Eissa due to health reasons.”
Before receiving the kidney, Eissa had to undergo dialysis, a treatment that helps perform the functions of a healthy kidney, such as removing waste, salt and excess water.
But the situation became dire when his heart began to fail.
“When we first saw Eissa, he was in good shape. But when he started the dialysis his heart function began deteriorating rapidly,” said Dr Bashir Sankari, chairman of CCAD’s surgical subspecialties institute.
“Unfortunately, some children do not take to this treatment well and that is why a kidney transplant is life-saving.
“We are fortunate that a donor was found on time and this young boy has been given a second chance in life.”
Patients with end-stage kidney disease requiring dialysis are at an increased risk of heart failure.
Several factors, such as fluid overload, diastolic dysfunction, arterial stiffness and valvular heart disease often contribute to the problem.
Doctors said Eissa's heart condition was worsening quickly and any delays to his surgery would have put him at real risk of complete cardiac failure and in need for a heart transplant.
He is now recovering at home, with ongoing monitoring by the hospital’s specialist transplant teams.
Maryam hopes the experience will help change the public’s perception towards organ donation, as one of her two other sons is also in need of a transplant soon.
“I urge people to register as donors in the UAE’s transplant programme,” she said.
“I have done so myself as I feel strongly about it.
“I want people to know that donating organs is an amazing thing to do, especially a kidney, as you can live normally with just one.
“It hurts to see your children waste their life in hospitals.
“This gift by an anonymous donor has saved my son’s life," she said.
“I will be eternally grateful.
"Now my older son is in need of a kidney and I’m hopeful that we will receive one soon.”
People can register as organ donors through the National Program for Organ Transplantation.