Patients on organ donor list await 'call of their life'

Patients on organ donor list await call of their life

Abu Dhabi - Dr Hamed said doctors and patients are always on high alert waiting for an organ.

By Jasmine Al Kuttab

Published: Sat 23 Jun 2018, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Mon 25 Jun 2018, 1:58 AM

An Abu Dhabi-based hospital, which conducted 10 organ transplants since the launch of the transplant programme in 2017, has many patients eagerly waiting on its donor list, Khaleej Times has learned.
The organ transplants conducted at the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi (CCAD) include the first lung and heart transplants in the country, as well as eight other transplants of liver and kidneys.
Dr Fadi Hamed, a pulmonologist and critical care physician, who heads the intensive care unit (ICU) at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi (CCAD), told Khaleej Times that there are a number of patients waiting to finally receive what he said is "the most important call of their life."
"Once you're active on the waiting list, you're always telephone-ready and on alert. It is one of the most important calls they will ever get in life. Waiting to hear the words: 'We have allocated organ for you'."
The process of listing someone on an organ transplant waiting list can take between three to six months. He added that those on the current list include three patients waiting for a lung transplant.
"Every organ has its own waiting list, there are always people on the waiting list and an influx of patients to be on the waiting list."
Dr Hamed added that the patients who were on the waiting list in the past used to travel abroad to have their surgeries done.
"Now those patients are getting their transplants locally, close to their families and without the need to travel."
Dr Bashir Sankari, head of Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi's transplant programme and chief of the Surgical Sub-specialties Institute, said the hospital is ready to complete more transplant surgeries every year, depending on demand and availability of donors.
"Our aim in boosting the number of organ transplant surgeries is to improve patients' lives and their quality of life."
Dr Hamed said organs are extremely time sensitive, and every organ has its limited time frame, from the second it is removed from the donor.
He stressed that the time frame is anywhere between four to six hours, to place the new organ in the new recipient.
"This is a time sensitive factor that actually affects the outcome of the surgery and the long-term survival of the organ."
Dr Hamed said doctors and patients are always on high alert waiting for an organ.
"For heart and lung transplants, it depends on the donor that has been brain-dead, which can happen today, tomorrow or next month.
"We are always on a high alert, waiting for a lung or heart transplant to happen."
He pointed out that the patients are always ready to receive a call for an organ and it is rare for doctors to encounter issues reaching the recipient during the time-sensitive moment, when the heart or lung organ has been made available.

Post-operative care key to maintaining patient's health, says doctor

Organ transplant does not stop on the day after the surgery is completed, according to Dr Fadi Hamed, who heads intensive care unit (ICU) at the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi (CCAD).
"The success of the surgery depends on the post-operative care, identifying any early complications that can happen after the surgery are crucial," Dr Fadi Hamed told Khaleej Times.
He said once the patients have their organ transplant, they are transferred to the ICU and they begin physiotherapy the following day.
Dr Hamed said the patient undergoes a range of tests to ensure there are no infections or complications such as rejection of the organ.
The relation between the medical team with the patient before the surgery, on the day of the surgery, and after surgery is key.
The expected course to be out of the ICU is between five to 15 days with a smooth post-operative course.
After taking the patient out of the ICU and into the regular nursing floor, they will continue their recovery phase.
"This is where the teaching happens about their medications, they will continue to have their physical therapy, and within 10-14 days the patients are expected to go home."
Dr Hamed said there is "a perfect kind of medical performance," because the patients and their families "see and get to know" the team that are involved in the surgery and nursing care, around six months to one year from the evaluation process.
He said most transplants have a routine follow-up in the first year. However, after one year of the transplant, the patients are seen between three to six months, and after three years of the surgery, the patients are seen anywhere between six to 12 months, when the organ function is checked. 
"The whole idea is that the medical management does not stop once the patients are discharged.
"To have a successful programme, you need to have a pre-transplant process, an acute post-transplant process and a long-term post-transplant process."

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