'I don't know who my donor is but they saved my life': Dubai's first liver transplant patient

Nadiia's health deteriorated, leading to her admission to the hospital for two weeks in September

by

SM Ayaz Zakir

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Image used for illustrative purpose. Photo: KT file
Image used for illustrative purpose. Photo: KT file

Published: Wed 10 Jan 2024, 6:07 PM

Last updated: Thu 11 Jan 2024, 12:37 AM

A 38-year-old Ukrainian homemaker who recently underwent the first liver transplant at King’s College Hospital in Dubai has spoken of her deep gratitude to her donor. “I don’t know who they are, but they are my heroes. I am thankful beyond words,” said Nadiia Musiuk.

“From the moment I heard about the donor, I had been praying for the family,” said Nadiia, expressing her gratitude to the unknown heroes who gave her a new lease of life.

Misdiagnosis

Nadiia started experiencing health issues, including problems with digestion and swollen feet in May 2023. Initially seeking medical advice, she consulted a gastroenterologist who found nothing alarming and recommended dietary changes. “I was just told to keep a check on my diet. But I was sure, there is something worrying about my health,” said Nadiia.

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However, as her condition worsened, she sought a second opinion from Dr Kaiser Raja, a consultant hepatologist at Kings College Hospital London in Dubai.

After a series of tests and observations, she was diagnosed with liver disease and began treatment with steroids. “I was surprised to know that I'd had this disease for a long time. The doctors told me that liver diseases are always silent,” said Nadiia.

Nadiia's health deteriorated, leading to her admission at the hospital for two weeks in September. "My eyes turned yellow, skin colour changed, and my feet were swelling with no solution. All I could do was trust the doctors," said Nadiia, adding that medicines failed to have any effect on her.

Glimmer of hope

It was then that Dr Kaiser confirmed that Nadiia was facing liver failure and the only viable option was a liver transplant. “I couldn’t process the doctor's words. I was thinking to myself: 'I am just 38. I never thought something can happen like this to me.' I questioned whether I really needed a new organ. I was not sure if I heard right,” said Nadiia.

Exploring all options, Nadiia and her medical team considered other countries for the transplant. “We got in touch with many hospitals in other parts of the world. We even got in touch with the Kings College Hospital in London to see if the surgery could be conducted there and other medical procedures and treatment could be done here,” said Nadiia.

That's when she was told about the new liver transplant program in Dubai, which offered her hope. The turning point came on November 27 when Dr Kaiser delivered the long-awaited news – they had found a donor. Overwhelmed with emotion, Nadiia was scheduled for surgery on November 29. “I hadn't felt happy in ages. The news of finding the donor made me really happy,” said Nadiia.

Path to recovery

Currently undergoing regular check-ups and medication, Nadiia is on the path to recovery, grateful for a second chance at life. Reflecting on her experience, she emphasised on the importance of organ donation awareness in the Middle East.

“Transplant is something new in this region. A lot of people are still not aware of organ donation. Many people need organs, but unfortunately, they are not available. Every person can take a minute and think about organ donation; it can impact many families,” said Nadiia, expressing her commitment to becoming an organ donor herself.

Nadiia's deepest gratitude is reserved for the anonymous donor's family. In Islam, she noted, “They say, save a life, you save humanity. The family has saved humanity.” Despite not knowing their identity, she prays for them regularly, hoping that God keeps them healthy.

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