UAE organ donation efforts give patients new lease on life

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Published: Tue 8 Nov 2022, 12:07 PM

Last updated: Tue 8 Nov 2022, 4:49 PM

Standfirst: Emirati teen on dialysis all his life receives anonymous donor's kidney while Jordanian youth breathes easier with lung transplant


Ismail Sebugwaawo

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Young Abdul Rahman Fahad Al Marzouqi was diagnosed with kidney disease mere weeks after he was born. The Emirati boy was on dialysis for almost all of the 13 years of his life so far — until last year. That was when an anonymous young donor gave away their live kidney to the teenager.

“I’m feeling great now after a successful kidney transplant. I’m so happy that I don’t have to visit the hospital weekly for dialysis. It’s been so hectic for me,” Abdul Rahman told Khaleej Times on Monday, on the side-lines of The International Conference for Initiatives on Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation.

The Emirati was one of the successful organ transplant recipients who attended the three-day conference at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec). Al Marzouqi's mother said that she is very grateful to the donor who got her child off dialysis, and saved his life.

“I have gone through a lot to raise this child who was diagnosed with a kidney illness just a few weeks after he was born,” said the Emirati mother. “It hurts to see your child spending most of his time in hospitals. This gift by the young donor has saved the life of my son. I will be eternally grateful to the family of the donor, and to all those donating organs to those in desperate need for them. It takes a special kind of person to keep another human being alive."

Dr Muhammad Badar Zaman, chief, division of Transplantation and Hepatobiliary Surgery, at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC), where Al Marzouqi was treated, said the boy has needed multiple operations since childhood, because he has some anatomical problems in passing urine.

“We had to find him a perfect donor. Unfortunately, no one in the family was suitable and we had to wait for a deceased’s donation,” he said.

“Fortunately, one day, we found him a young donor who died in an accident. His family was kind enough to donate the kidney. Since the transplant, the boy is living a normal life and he’s not depending on the dialysis any more.”

Lung transplant

Seifdeen Nidal, 22, a Jordanian national, underwent a lung transplant at Cleveland Clinic last week. The family, including his parents, recently travelled with him to the UAE after authorities found a lungs donor for him.

Aida Shamaeleh, his mother, who also attended the organ donation and transplant conference, told Khaleej Times that her son was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis (CF), an inherited disorder that causes severe damage to the lungs, digestive system and other organs in the body, when he was just a year old.

“My son faced difficulty in breathing and always needed machines to support him,” she said, adding that Nidal had reached a level where he desperately needed a transplant to save his life.

She began searching for help and reached out to the Jordanian national organ donor programme, which collaborated with UAE authorities to find a suitable donor for her son. Just recently, the family was given the good news that a donor had been found.

The family immediately flew to Abu Dhabi where doctors at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi carried out the lung transplant operation on Nidal that has given him back the healthy life he was missing.

Dr Ali Al Obaidli, chairman of UAE National Transplant Committee, said post-mortem donations have become a tangible reality in the UAE since the Federal Decree-Law No. (5) of 2016 was issued, regulating the transfer and transplant of human organs and tissues.

He said last year, organs from 39 donors benefited 147 people while this year, organs from 47 donors have helped save the lives of 167 people. Most donations were of kidneys.

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