Abu Dhabi: A total of 22 patients in need of organ transplants have benefited since the UAE legalised organ donations from deceased donors, top health officials announced here on Sunday.

And as the UAE works to set up its donor registry and national transplant list, officials urged residents to have the all-important conversations about organ donation with their family members and friends.

“We expect to announce the donor registry in the very near future. But in the meantime, given that the UAE now has four licensed transplant centres, people should inform their family members and friends if they wish to become organ donors. Consent conveyed in this manner will ease the process of organ donation for family during the difficult mourning period,” Dr Ali Al Obaidli, chairman of the National Transplant Committee, told Gulf News.

Residents can also record their wish to donate organs on the Emirates ID database, he added.

Al Obaidli was speaking at a press conference held to announce the UAE’s strides in organ donation since deceased donor transplants were authorised by presidential decree in 2016.

According to statistics presented by UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention officials, the UAE has so far seen six deceased donors. Their harvested organs allowed for 12 kidney transplants, three liver transplants, four lung transplants, two heart transplants and one pancreatic transplant. 13 of the organ recipients were based in the UAE while nine of the organs were transplanted in recipients based in Saudi Arabia. Tissue donations have not yet been carried out from deceased donors in the UAE.

Transplants can now be performed at the Shaikh Khalifa Medical City in the capital, the UAE’s first licensed transplant facility, as well as at multi-organ transplant facility Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, the Mediclinic City Hospital in Dubai, and at Al Jalila Children’s Speciality Hospital. The Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi only last week announced its successful transplantation of four solid organs, including the kidneys, the heart, the liver and the lungs.

Dr Al Obaidli emphasised that only 0.5 per cent of mortalities in a country present viable opportunities for organ donation. This figure rises somewhat to 14 per cent when only deaths in the intensive care unit are considered.

“Organs need to be in the perfect condition to be harvested, and the donor has to be in a state of brain death. There are various other conditions that have to met, meaning that only a small number of organs are viable for transplantation. And this is why it is especially important for UAE residents to speak to their family about organ donation, which would, in turn, support the country’s transplant programmes,” he said.

At present, in case of brain death, a specialised group of professionals approaches families of potential deceased donors at health care facilities across the country to discuss organ donation. If consent is given, transplant teams are notified and transplant facilities get in touch with matched recipients to begin the process of transplantation.

All Gulf countries have also signed the relevant agreements to share donated organs and ease their transport across borders.

Dr Ameen Al Amiri, assistant undersecretary for medical practices and licensing at the Ministry of Health and Prevention, stressed that talks were ongoing to set up the UAE’s donor registry and transplant list.

“We are also continuing to train our medical professionals as the UAE works to become a regional centre of excellence for transplantation. In fact, a training programme for 180 professionals organised in collaboration with the Spanish National Transplantation Organisation has just concluded today, and we have recently organised other workshops with experts from India,” he said.


Organ donations in the UAE

6 people have become deceased organ donors in the UAE

22 patients have benefited from their organs

The organ donations have facilitated 12 kidney transplants, 3 liver transplants, 4 lung transplants, 2 heart transplants and 1 pancreatic transplant

4 transplant centres in the UAE: Shaikh Khalifa Medical City and Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi in Abu Dhabi; Mediclinic City Hospital and Al Jalila Specialty Children’s Hospital in Dubai

A review of the six cases of organ donation:

1. The organs of a deceased donor from Sharjah’s Al Qassimi Hospital were transplanted into five people.

2. The second deceased donor was at Al Fujairah Hospital and the organs were transplanted into three people.

3. In the third case, a deceased donor at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi enabled the transplants for three people. This case also saw the first heart transplant in the country, conducted at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.

4. In the fourth instance, the kidneys of a two-week-old deceased female donor at Saudi German Hospital in Dubai were both transplanted into one patient.

5. At the Shaikh Khalifa Medical City in Ajman, a deceased donor’s organs helped save four lives. One kidney was transplanted into a 14-year-old Jordanian child, while another kidney was received by a 42-year-old Emirati who was suffering from kidney failure. The donor’s liver was also transplanted into a 60-year-old Emirati in the country’s first liver transplant. Finally, the donor’s lungs were transplanted into a child suffering from pulmonary failure in Saudi Arabia.

6. In the final case of deceased organ donation, a donor in Al Fujairah Hospital helped save three lives. One kidney each was transplanted into two different patients, and the donor’s lung facilitated the country’s first lung transplant at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi this month.