Abu Dhabi: 5-year-old Emirati boy gets new lease of life with ‘milestone’ kidney transplant

"When he was born, I was told that my baby had only a few months to live, but I believe in miracles," the child's mother said.


Ismail Sebugwaawo

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File photo for illustrative purposes
File photo for illustrative purposes

Published: Thu 10 Mar 2022, 3:34 PM

Last updated: Thu 10 Mar 2022, 3:40 PM

A five-year-old Emirati boy, who had been suffering from end-stage renal disease since he was a baby, got a new life after a successful kidney transplant at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC) in Abu Dhabi.

Salem Al Falahi, was born with a congenital bladder problem which meant his kidneys had failed early in his life. The Emirati child had been receiving dialysis treatment (both peritoneal dialysis and haemodialysis), since he was just two months old.

Kidney failure is an extremely serious condition and has a negative impact on a child’s growth and development. The kidneys act as filters, so when they stop functioning, too much waste is built up in the body and this can cause a problems with brain development and function, sometimes leading to learning disabilities.

After undergoing numerous surgeries and infections, and enduring emergency hospitalisations, Salem’s family received the long-awaited call that a matching kidney had been found from a deceased donor. The operation was carried out successfully on December 24.

The operation marked a major milestone in the number of paediatric kidney transplants carried out by Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha)’s Kidney Transplant Programme since its inception in 2010.

SKMC and SEHA Kidney Care have carried out 52 paediatric kidney transplants, with the Emirati boy being the most recent one.

Al Falahi’s mother says she is extremely happy to see her child get a new shot at life.

“I cannot be more grateful for this gift from God. When he was born, I was told that my baby had only a few months to live, but I believe in miracles. My little child has now been given a new lease of life,” said the mother. “He has the opportunity to grow and live a normal, happy and healthy life.”

Dr Muhammad Zaman, transplant surgeon at SKMC, said: “Kidney transplants are considered the best treatment option for adults, as well as children, who have kidney failure. By having a kidney transplant, it means the child is free from having to undergo dialysis which is an extremely time-consuming treatment.

“We are delighted to see this child in better health. We always follow our patients closely, and a successful transplant is only half the journey; the other half is to avoid rejection of the new organ. We work closely with all our patients and families after procedures like this to ensure they receive all the support they need to help the child achieve normal growth and development, in addition to helping them manage a smooth transition into adulthood so they have the best chance in life.”

Dr Safa Al Mustafa, acting CEO at SKMC, said conducting 52 paediatric kidney transplants is a significant milestone and a positive step forward that demonstrates their commitment to delivering the best transplant services to our patients.


“The success of kidney transplantation in children with end-stage renal disease now results in 10-year patient survival rate of 90–95 per cent, in addition to multiple benefits to quality of life, which further shows that transplant is often the preferred treatment option compared to staying on dialysis,” said Al Mustafa.

“Through our world-class services at SKMC, we continue to elevate pediatric services in Abu Dhabi in line with international benchmarks, as well as strive to increase access to these life-saving treatments in the UAE. To date, Seha's Transplant Program has performed almost 393 transplants in total since its inception.”

SKMC is the leading centre for paediatric organ transplants in the UAE, offering up-to-date treatment.

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