UAE girl in 20s donates kidney to sister
For 2 years, Fatema had to go for kidney dialysis every other day
Physicians at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi have successfully transferred a kidney from 22-year-old Shayma Alhebsi to her 27-year old sister, Fatema who had been suffering from kidney failure for the past two years.
The Emirati national student has said she didn't think twice about donating a kidney to her seriously ill sister. "Fatema had to go for kidney dialysis every other day and I used to go with her," says Shayma.
"It used to take hours and hours and it would take a lot out of her. She became very tired. We reached the point where we could not do it any longer."
Fatema discovered she had kidney failure at the age of 25. After a series of tests around the world, she was told that her kidney function was just five per cent and she urgently needed a transplant.
"We all had our blood tested and it turned out that I was the only one in the family who had the same blood group. I immediately said I would be happy to give my sister a kidney. We only live once. If I did not step in to help my sister, then who would?" shares Shayma.
Initially, the family had planned to fly to South Korea for the operation but when then they heard about Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi's kidney transplant expertise via social media and opted to have the operation closer to home.
Shayma says she took the initiative and called the hospital herself. An appointment was quickly arranged and the operation took place soon after.
Dr Bashir Sankari, Chief of the Surgical Subspecialties Institute at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, the lead surgeon for the operation, says: "We are pleased to see patients choosing to stay within the UAE or GCC, rather than taking a long flight for overseas treatment during a very difficult time for them physically." Dr Sankari has performed more than 1,000 kidney transplants during his career.
"Everything went really smoothly before and during the operation," says Shayma.
"Fatema was worried that the procedure could harm my health but in fac, I feel fine. And the best thing is seeing such an improvement in my sister's health. Before the operation, she was suffering a lot with the dialysis and was always tired. Now she is eating healthy, she has gained weight and she is much more energetic. We feel like the sickness has left her."
"Since the operation my health has improved massively," says Fatema. "I feel so much better. I can do so many things that I could never do while I was sick. I am so grateful to my sister who has given me this precious gift."
More than 2,000 patients in the UAE currently undergo regular dialysis treatment for kidney diseases.
"Helping someone else, especially your own family like this is a very rewarding experience," says Shayma. "The suffering of patients like my sister is huge as dialysis takes over their whole lives. Helping someone makes you feel good that you have saved a life and I hope that people in similar situations can take courage from our story."
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