Dubai - 4,000 people in the UAE are facing kidney failure.
Sudden kidney failure, along with the subsequent painful dialysis required three times a week, was what put Ryan Marcos on the waiting list of kidney transplant patients in 2016.
However, despite being an ideal candidate for a transplant, he did not have a live donor and in 2016, the UAE law did not allow for organ transplants from the deceased.
"I did not have a way out and had to undergo the painful dialysis three times for four hours each week," Ryan (name changed) told Khaleej Times.
As luck would have it, just a year later in 2017, the UAE passed a law allowing cadaver organ transplantations. The 40-year-old Filipino became the first expatriate in Dubai to receive a kidney from a cadaver after being on dialysis for over a year and a half.
Dubai's organ transplantation programme from live donors was already active and the first kidney was transplanted in a young Emirati woman in June in 2016. The surgery was conducted at the Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences (MBRU) in Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC) in collaboration with Mediclinic City Hospital.
Before the availability of the organ, Ryan had already travelled back home to seek a way out but the situation in the Philippines was far worse.
"There was a long waiting line for people seeking a kidney transplant in the Philippines, so I came back disheartened," he said.
And it was right after he came back from the vacation that his doctors at Mediclinic City Hospital - one of the three hospitals where organ transplantation are currently carried out in the UAE - asked him if he was willing to be placed on the country's organ transplant waiting list.
"I said yes because, besides bearing the pain, I was also paying Dh1,300 per session for the dialysis," said Ryan.
Due to the dialysis, Ryan had also been unable to work since the treatment left him tired and drained.
He was informed that he would undergo the transplant just a day before the surgery, which took place on July 15, 2017. The surgery itself took four hours and within a couple of days, Ryan was able to pass urine and walk around.
Today, nearly two years after the surgery, Ryan has just resumed work and is now leading a normal life, even though he has to undergo regular check-ups and take anti-rejection medicines for the rest of his life.
"I often think of the person who donated the organ," said Ryan. "I don't know who that person is but if it wasn't for him or her, I wouldn't be alive. Everyone who can, should donate their organs because even if you are gone, you can save the lives of up to eight people," he said.
Today on World Kidney Day, Dr Farhad Janahi, assistant professor at the MBRU and consultant urologist and part of the Mediclinic City Hospital's transplant team, said that at least 4,000 people in the UAE are facing kidney failure and undergoing dialysis. More than 1,500 of them are living in Dubai. Also, two-thirds or around 66 per cent of these patients are eligible for a transplant.
"We have 25 people on the waiting list and the numbers are increasing," he said.
Seven kidney transplants from cadavers have already been conducted in Dubai since the law allowed it.
"The public needs to know that we have the capability to perform such life-saving surgeries here in the country and they do not need to go abroad," he said, adding that people should come forward and donate their organs.
Once an organ becomes available for transplant, it takes between three and six months to do the tests before the surgery. "People should donate.we as surgeons are ready 24/7.on holidays, on weekends and whenever we know an organ is available for transplant," said Dr Janahi.