Surgeons at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi performing the liver transplant Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Emirati Mohammad Al Kuthairi, 60, has become the first man to undergo a successful liver transplant in the UAE.

The life-saving surgery was conducted at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi recently as part of its multi-organ transplant programme.

“I would not be alive today if I hadn’t received the transplant,” said the military veteran.

Five years of suffering

The father of six had been suffering from symptoms like jaundice, abdominal pain and swelling, nausea, vomiting and fatigue for five years before being eventually diagnosed with cirrhosis. “His condition was complicated by ascites (accumulation of fluid in the abdomen) and peritonitis (infection of the inner wall of the abdomen). He had also suffered gastrointestinal bleeding that underscored the urgent need for a transplant,” said Professor Antonio Daniele Pinna, Transplant Surgeon at Cleveland.

 I’d not have been alive if I hadn’t received the transplant ”

 - Mohammad Al Kuthairi, Emirati

Initially, Kuthairi considered getting a live donor from a family member. But he was also placed on the deceased donor waiting list at Cleveland Clinic because it takes longer for the recipient to recover from a living donor surgery and the chances of complications are higher.

Complex surgery

Two months later, a deceased’s donor liver became available in Sheikh Khalifa Medical City – Ajman. A five-person medical and surgical team performed the transplant, which took eight hours. The team comprised Dr. Antonio Pinna, Dr. Yasir Akmal, (Hepatobiliary Surgeon) Dr. Naveed Ahmed, (Hepatobiliary Surgeon), Dr. Ahmad Matalkah (Clinical Associate) and Dr. Shiva Kumar (Chief of Gastroenterology and Hepatology). The wider medical team comprised more than 30 surgical and medical staff, including nurses, anesthesiologists, intensivists and technicians.

An innovative technique of preserving the patient’s own vena cava (the large vein running from the liver to the heart) to reduce blood loss, was used during the procedure.

“Through my example I want the public to know the life changing difference they can make by consenting to organ donations after death,” said Kuthairi, who has been recovering well since his discharge on February 14.