Organ recipients in UAE happy about 'second chance'


Organ recipients in UAE happy about second chance

Abu Dhabi - Younis is a mother of four boys and two girls and has been living in Abu Dhabi for 33 years.


Ismail Sebugwaawo

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Published: Tue 22 Jan 2019, 9:52 PM

Last updated: Tue 22 Jan 2019, 11:54 PM

The UAE's first double-lung transplant patient has spoken about how it feels to be breathing again and getting a second chance to live after a historic surgery.

Rahima Younis, a 46-year-old Palestinian expat, underwent the complex procedure at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi (CCAD) on June 10, 2018, after suffering from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a debilitating, progressive disease that causes extensive scarring of the lungs, for the past few years.

The patient, who had to use a wheelchair and oxygen cylinders prior to the operation, told Khaleej Times that she's now living a normal and healthy life.

"I am so glad that I had this surgery. I am now breathing freely," Younis said on the sidelines of an event organised by CCAD on Tuesday to celebrate transplant successes in the Year of Tolerance.

Younis is a mother of four boys and two girls and has been living in Abu Dhabi for 33 years. "I cannot describe how it feels to breathe again normally like other people. I spent more than three years being plunged into oxygen. But after the successful operation, I can now walk freely, do everything on my own, including the house chores and taking care of my children."

Youinis, who worked as a private tutor before she was diagnosed with IPF, added: "I thank God for giving me a second chance to live. I am so grateful to the doctors at Cleveland Clinic and the family of the donor."

Dr Redha Souilamas, chair of thoracic surgery at CCAD, who led the double-lung transplant, told Khaleej Times that the surgery, the first of its kind in the UAE, took just over five hours to complete.

"While a double-lung transplant is a complex procedure, Rahima has recovered almost 100 per cent following the surgery and she can do everything like a normal healthy person," said Dr Souilamas.

"There is no definitive cure for IPF and patients have a low survival rate after diagnosis without transplant surgery."

Younis had spent four months on the waiting list before the hospital got the organs from a deceased donor.

The Algerian doctor, who worked in Paris for 15 years, said patients with IPF are typically given just a three to five-year survival rate after diagnosis.

Full-heart transplant patient

An Emirati patient, Nasser Sultan Al Muhairi, 38, who attended the event, said a successful heart transplant had completely changed his life.

"This operation has saved my life," Al Muhairi told Khaleej Times. "I always felt weak and I was urinating frequently. But now, I am living a healthy life. I thank the organ donor, his family and the doctors."

The petroleum engineer was the UAE's first full heart transplant patient and his operation was performed in October 2018 by a team of four surgeons.

Al Muhairi, who was working for a petroleum company in Abu Dhabi, had been suffering from end-stage heart failure and was being managed by the Heart Failure and Transplant Programme for almost six months.

He was diagnosed with the heart disease in 2008 and since then, he has been receiving treatment from various hospitals in the UAE and abroad. The Emirati is recovering well although he continues to have follow-up visits at the hospital. 

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