UAE hospital performs first cadaver heart transplant
Abu Dhabi - The 38-year-old Emirati patient is currently recovering from the surgery at the hospital
Creating history, physicians have successfully completed the UAE's full heart transplant on a 38-year-old Emirati man, who had been suffering from end-stage heart failure.
The six-hour long surgery was performed at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi's heart centre and took place on the evening of December 5 and into the early hours of the following morning.
The surgery was performed by a four-person surgical team that included Dr Rakesh Suri, Acting CEO of Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi; Dr Johannes Bonatti, Chief of the Heart & Vascular Institute; Dr. Stefan Sanger, Clinical Associate; and Dr. Jehad Al Ramahi, Clinical Associate - all of Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.
The patient was being managed by the Heart Failure and Transplant Programme for almost six months until the transplant. He was placed on Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi's transplant waiting list shortly after the UAE government's decree earlier this year that allows deceased donor transplants.
The patient is currently recovering from the surgery at the hospital.
On the same night, Dr Bashir Sankari, the Chief of the Surgical Subspecialties Institute at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, performed a kidney transplant from the same donor, providing vital surgery for another patient on the hospital's transplant list.
Dr. Rakesh Suri, Acting CEO of Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, said: "It is a significant achievement for Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi and our transplant team, who have accomplished a historic medical milestone in the UAE. This operation underlines the incredible social impact that our transplant services are having - thanks to one donor, we have transformed the lives of multiple patients and their families."
"The UAE has taken important strides in introducing new legislation to support transplant operations in 2017, and we are very proud that Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is the first and only multi-organ transplant facility in the country. After two years of sophisticated training and preparation, our team was fully prepared to undertake and excel in performing this innovative series of operations," he added.
Demonstrating the remarkable benefits that organ donation can offer, teams from another medical facility in the UAE and from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia were also involved in the transplants. The donor's second kidney went to a pediatric patient at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Abu Dhabi, while a team from the Saudi Centre for Organ Transplantation (SCOT) was present for the surgery.
"The donor heart started beating immediately after implantation and the heart patient was taken to the intensive care unit after six hours in the operating room," said Dr Bonatti.
Dr Feras Bader, the Director of Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi's Heart Failure and Transplant Program, said: "I was called about the donor 48 hours before the transplant surgery. It was the same day that the world was celebrating the 50th anniversary of the world's first heart transplant in 1967, and also the day the UAE was celebrating its 46th National Day. It's a remarkable coincidence and one that shows the incredible progress this nation has made."
Dr Bader said the 24-member multidisciplinary Heart Failure and Transplant team had been preparing for its first heart transplant for the past two years, including attending extensive education sessions and simulating the transplant process and surgery on multiple occasions.
For Emirati national Dr Jehad Al Ramahi, the opportunity to be part of the first UAE heart transplant team was a career-defining experience.