Organ donor saves four lives in UAE and Saudi Arabia

Family of man allow his kidneys, heart and liver to be used to save the lives of critically ill patients

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES,  JUNE 17, 2013. Working moms. Dr. Houriya Kazim BSc, MPH, MB BCh, FRCS, Medical Director and Specialist Breast Surgeon, an Emirati and the country's first female surgeon at work on a surgery at the Dubai London Speciailty Hosptial on Beach rd.  Freelancer is Rachel Lewis. (ANTONIE ROBERTSON / The National)
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The organs of a 50-year-old brain-dead man were used to save the lives of four people in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

The man was declared clinically dead by doctors in Al Ain after he suffered an acute stroke and severe brain trauma last month. His family agreed for his organs to be used to save patients in need of a transplant.

Surgeons at Tawam Hospital carried out a four-hour operation to remove the organs and send them to patients across the Emirates. The surgery was carried out in three stages.

"The first phase involved the extraction or removal of the organs, such as the heart, liver, and both kidneys, from the body of the donor," said Dr Hala Abu Zaid, head of the organ donation unit at Tawam Hospital.

Protocols during surgery ensure the organs are well preserved and healthy for transplants. These are overseen by the National Committee for Organ Transplantation, who are responsible for matching potential patients with donor blood and tissue types.

An organ is delivered to medical staff to enable the first transplant surgery to be carried out in Dubai in 2016. Courtesy: Dubai Media office
An organ is delivered to medical staff to enable the first transplant surgery to be carried out in Dubai in 2016. Courtesy: Dubai Media office

The man's one kidney and liver were sent to separate patients in Abu Dhabi while another in Dubai received his second kidney. The man's heart was delivered to Saudi Arabia, where a patient in urgent need of a transplant was saved. The patients were chosen from the transplant list because they most closely matched the donor.

"The operation was successful, and the organs were transported by fully-equipped technical crews, and a medical evacuation team, who transported the organs by plane to the patients with chronic diseases for transplantation," Dr Abu Zaid said.

Transplant operations are highly complex and require joint efforts by several medical teams to be successful.

The surgery was the second of its kind conducted in Al Ain.

The country's first heart transplant was carried out in 2017 at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, where an Emirati patient with late-stage heart disease was saved. Two other patients received organs from the deceased donor. One was a child at Abu Dhabi Health Services Company's Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, who received one of the donor's kidneys.

Doctors said all three patients had virtually no chance of survival and had been on transplant lists for a long time.

Late last year, Abu Dhabi authorities launched a community appeal to support the country's organ donation programme.

The public is being urged to back a Dh5 million ($1.3m) fund-raising drive to improve the perception of organ donation and to support families.

Although organ transplants are usually covered by insurance, and at times by government funds, there are certain areas that require community support.