'It's a miracle we got to share this journey': Filipino expat in UAE saves wife's life by donating kidney

A team of specialists carried out the live-donor kidney transplant in a complex eight-hour procedure

Supplied photo
Supplied photo

SM Ayaz Zakir

Published: Thu 9 Mar 2023, 12:32 PM

Last updated: Thu 9 Mar 2023, 9:32 PM

Filipino expat Frederick Valiente said his heart broke every time his wife underwent dialysis, something she had to do thrice every week. He had always wished he could do something to ease her pain — and it turned out he was the donor who could give a new lease of life to his wife.

His wife Maria Theresa Coronel, 37, had been suffering from severe kidney disease and since her diagnosis, life has been tough for the family, who has been living in Sharjah for the past 10 years.

“It has been a challenging ride for us...My wife had to endure the unpleasant experience of undergoing dialysis sessions thrice a week to sustain life. So, we decided to explore alternative options,” Frederick said.

A search for a donor started, with Maria's niece coming forward first. "Unfortunately, on evaluation, she was not a match,” said Maria.

Frederick then had his kidney evaluated to check if he could donate. Upon learning that he was a match, he agreed to donate without any hesitation.

“I love my wife and would do anything for her,” he said. Married for eight years, the couple has two children.

“I’m glad I was able to help her in some way to bring her and our family back to normal life again by donating one of my kidneys," Frederick added.


Complex surgery

The live-donor kidney transplant took a total of eight hours. The procedure was led by Dr Venkat Sainaresh Vellanki, director of transplant nephrology; and Dr Rehan Saif, director of transplant surgery at Burjeel Medical City.

“Both surgeries took place simultaneously in a staggered fashion to keep the time — between the kidney being removed from the donor and beimg transplanted into the recipient — to a minimum," Dr Rehan explained.

"The donor surgery was performed using a minimally invasive method using a 3D technology camera. The renal graft was then prepared and transplanted into the recipient wherein the blood vessels (artery and vein) and ureter are anastomosed to the recipient’s blood vessels and urinary bladder,” he added.

Dr Ramamurthy Ganesan Baskaran, consultant transplant anaesthesiologist, and Dr Nicholas Wyon, consultant intensivist at Burjeel Medical City, were also a part of the transplant team.

Now, the couple is recovering well, the doctors said. They have received an outpouring of support from the medical, nursing, and technical staff at Burjeel Medical City.

“We are grateful for the second chance at life. We are so blessed and thankful. It’s a miracle that my husband and I get to share this journey. My husband is my hero. He saved my life, and I am forever grateful,” said Maria.

“The doctors and other transplant team members were very professional, sensitive, and supportive of our needs through this difficult time. I am very thankful to God and the doctors of this hospital,” Frederick said.

Tips to keep kidneys healthy

Kidneys are vital in maintaining an environment for all other body organs to function smoothly. That is why we must follow a healthy diet and lifestyle; and control any health issues such as obesity, diabetes mellitus and hypertension.

Dr. Manish Tripathi, a specialist nephrologist at International Modern Hospital Dubai, and Dr. Sanjay Bhat Hatangadi, consultant urologist and head of the department at Saudi German Hospital Dubai, shared the following tips to keep our pair of kidneys healthy.

Choose and cook healthy food

  • Pick fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Cut back on sugar and salt.
  • The aim should be 2.3 grams of sodium only daily and not more than 10 per cent of daily calories should come from added sugars. Choose food with little or no added sugar.
  • When cooking, it is better to use a mix of spices instead of salt
  • Instead of frying, try baking or broiling meat, chicken and fish
  • Serve foods without gravy or added fats.
  • Eat food made from whole grains (whole wheat, brown rice, oats, and whole-grain corn); substitute brown rice for white rice

Be active

  • Do physical activities. Be active for about 30 minutes or more on most days. Also, consult with your doctor about types and amounts of physical activity that are right for you.

Aim for the right weight

  • If you are overweight, consult work with your doctor to create healthy meal plan to reach your ideal weight

Get enough sleep

  • You may not be aware of it, but having a good night sleep is not only good to rest your body but also to repair your organs, including your kidney. So, aim for at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night.

Quit smoking

  • If you smoke or use other tobacco products, stop now.


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