Doctors in Dubai have performed five kidney transplants in just 10 days, including three from living donors.
The surgeries took place in partnership with the Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine (MBRU), Mediclinic Middle East and Health Sciences and Al Jalila Children’s Specialty Hospital.
Medical experts involved in the procedures said they represented a breakthrough moment in organ transplants in the UAE.
“Performing living donor kidney transplants is a new dawn for our patients with kidney failure,” said Dr Farhad Janahi, assistant professor of surgery at MBRU and consultant urological and transplant surgeon at Mediclinic City Hospital, where two surgeries were performed.
“It asserts our medical and surgical teams’ capabilities.”
A 34-year-old man had been on the kidney donor waiting list since July 2019. He was given a kidney by his wife’s brother, 23.
The successful procedure took place at Mediclinic City Hospital on November 14. The patient was on peritoneal dialysis for almost two years.
There are two kinds of dialysis. In haemodialysis, blood is pumped out of the body to an artificial kidney machine, is filtered and returned through tubes.
In peritoneal dialysis, a catheter is placed in the belly. It carries a sterile fluid to clean the kidneys and then flushes it out.
The first procedure was followed by two more live organ surgeries in a matter of days.
An Emirati female patient, 41, suffered from polycystic kidney disease, in which clusters of cysts develop on the organs. This can cause the kidneys to lose function over time.
She found a donor match in her 36-year-old brother.
Another operation was conducted on a 20-year-old-patient at Al Qassimi Hospital Sharjah.
The recipients and donors were discharged within 10 days and are free of complications.
Two more kidney transplants were completed from donors who had donated their organs after death.
Dr Ramzi Ayache, a consultant nephrologist at Mediclinic City Hospital, explained the process of transplanting from a live donor.
“After a strict evaluation before approval, the family member will donate only one kidney to his relative with failed kidneys,” he said.
“The remaining kidney compensates for the loss of one kidney and allows him to have a normal life.
“Even though the long-term risk of kidney donation is minimal when compared with the health risks in the general population, we recommend that the donor follows a healthy lifestyle and has a medical check-up annually.”
A law clarifying organ transplantation from living people and the deceased was passed in 2016 to the huge relief of patients and their families.
Earlier, Emirati patients had to seek risky transplant surgeries overseas.
The nation’s organ transplant programme has gathered pace with the MBRU transplant project conducting 17 surgeries in total.
Organ donors can now register on the Hayat app, run by the Ministry of Health and Prevention, to help around 11,000 patients in need of a transplant.
A live transplant usually improves long-term kidney survival because of a better genetic match. It also avoids dialysis when possible.
“The benefit of live donation is obvious for the patient for these reasons, but also for the donor,” said Dr Ayache.
“Studies showed donors tend to have higher quality of life after donation, with more self-esteem and increased sense of well-being by helping their loved ones.”