First child kidney transplant patient in UAE enjoys normal life a decade on

To mark World Kidney Day, 'The National' visits Hajera Qudoos 11 years after ground-breaking surgery

More than a decade ago, five-year-old Hajera Qudoos made history when she became the UAE’s first paediatric kidney transplant patient.

The National reported on her ground-breaking surgery at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City Hospital, and placed her story on the front page in May 2010.

To mark World Kidney Day on March 11, we visited Hajera and her mother Tahmina Qudoos to find out how their lives have changed since her transplant.

Before the transplant it was a nightmare for me

Hajera, 16, is now a Grade 11 pupil and living a normal, healthy life.

Before the surgery, her situation was very different. When she was three Hajera suffered kidney failure and was placed on renal replacement therapy, where a machine does the job of your kidneys and removes excess water and toxins from the blood.

At the time, her mother told The National how their lives were a whirlwind of doctor's appointments and dialysis sessions.

During the 2010 interview Mrs Qudoos said: "She was very skinny. She had leg pain and was vomiting. From time to time, she would bleed through the nose. When she was sleeping, she was going into really deep sleep."

Hajera Qudoos with her mother Tahmina in The National in May, 2010. Six-year-old Hajera had stopped growing and endured months of dialysis before the transplant

Hajera also stopped growing, a common problem in children with kidney failure, and had to endure dialysis treatment for 12 hours every night for many months.

"In the beginning, she used to scream as the water was entering her body. It was a full education on how to take care of her," Mrs Qudoos, now 49, said at the time.

Today, more than 10 years after her daughter’s transplant, the mother of two said their lives are pretty normal.

"Before the transplant it was a nightmare for me," she said.

Hajera’s donor was an uncle on her father’s side. Mrs Qudoos said she would always be grateful to him for saving her daughter's life.

“I am thankful to her uncle. It is a big sacrifice, giving a part of your body to someone else.

"If there was anything I learnt from what happened to my daughter, it is the importance of organ donation, especially deceased organ donation.

"Our organs can give life and help many people after our death,” she said.

Hajera says she still remembers the moment when she was taken for surgery.

"I was told that while I sleep they will make a window in the stomach and put the kidney in," she said.

Since 2018, Sheikh Khalifa Medical City Hospital has carried out 43 paediatric kidney transplants and 297 adult transplants.

The facility is a local pioneer for innovative medical technologies, including most recently the first bone-marrow transplant in the UAE.