Dubai: In a major medical milestone for Dubai, the Al Jalila Children’s Speicality Hospital carried out the first successful paediatric kidney transplant on a 9-year-old girl, it was announced on Sunday.
Sudanese national Bana Nizar Hassan became the happy recipient of a cadaver kidney that saved her life and made her the first child to receive an organ from a deceased donor in Dubai, according to the Government of Dubai Media Office.
"We have just witnessed a defining moment in the history of Dubai’s paediatric health care system and Al Jalila Children’s is proud to have become a contributor to that history."
— Dr Abdullah Al Khayyat | CEO of Al Jalila Children’s Speciality Hospital
The surgery was performed by a joint medical team from Al Jalila Children’s hospital, and Mohammad Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences (MBRU). The team was led by MBRU’s prominent transplant surgeons Dr David Hickey, Professor of Surgery and Dr Farhad Al Janahi, Assistant Professor of Surgery. The lead surgeon, Dr Hickey, former director of the National Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Programme in Ireland, has performed over 2,000 transplants, trained transplant surgeons from around the world, and published over 130 peer reviewed scientific papers.
A total of 10 government health entities in Dubai and Abu Dhabi worked together to ensure that the kidney from a deceased donor in Abu Dhabi was transplanted within the critical 12-hour window. In addition to Al Jalila Children’s hospital and MBRU, Dubai Healthcare City Authority (DHCA), the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP) and its National Transplant Committee, Al Jalila Foundation, Abu Dhabi Police, Abu Dhabi Health Services Co. (SEHA), Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, and Shaikh Khalifa Medical City were involved.
Hassan was born with just one kidney, a condition called renal agenesis, which affects around one in 1,000 children. The five-hour surgery done recently will enable her to live her life without a problem. She has been discharged from the hospital.
Dr Abdullah Al Khayyat, CEO of Al Jalila Children’s, said: “We have just witnessed a defining moment in the history of Dubai’s paediatric health care system and Al Jalila Children’s is proud to have become a contributor to that history.”
He added: “Apart from this being an incredible medical achievement, what we’ve seen is exemplary cooperation between 10 different entities in Dubai and Abu Dhabi that came together in virtually no time to make this surgery possible. This is the first of many to come and we are on track to ensuring that Dubai is the hub of paediatric health care in the region by contributing to UAE’s 2021 vision for the health sector. While we celebrate this milestone, we must not forget the kindness and generosity of the donor that made it possible for Bana to start life anew.”
Dr Amer Sharif, Vice Chancellor of MBRU and CEO of DHCA’s Education sector said: “We are proud of the efforts of the joint team from MBRU and Al Jalila Children’s, our clinical academic affiliate, who were involved in this historic moment in UAE health care. It is testament to the efforts that have gone into the MBRU transplant programme, which was launched in 2016. This milestone was achieved through the visionary leadership of DHCA, enabling us to advance health in the UAE and the region and demonstrates a unified national effort towards the betterment of healthcare services for our people.”
Dr Al Janahi, who assisted Dr Hickey in the transplant told Gulf News: “Our team has carried out five kidney transplants and it is the first time a child has been the recipient of a kidney transplant in Dubai. This just indicates that deceased organ transplantation programme is progressing well in Dubai.”
A visibly relieved Nizar Hassan Yousuf, father of young Bana said: “We have been suffering for nine years now. We knew that there was something wrong with my daughter’s kidneys before she was even born. What we feel now is beyond words; it feels like we all have a new life to start together. It is also extremely overwhelming for us to see so many people from different entities across the UAE come together to treat my baby. ‘Thank you’ is not enough for them.”
He added: “Bana’s first smile after the operation was the most precious moment in my life, and I would like to dedicate her first smile to our gracious donor and his family. God bless them all.”
Deceased organ transplant programme
The UAE’s Organ Transplantation Law which was amended by a Presidential Decree of 2016 allows for deceased and living donors organ transplant. Organs that can be transplanted are the heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas, intestine and thymus. Tissues include bones, tendons, cornea, skin, heart valves, nerves and veins.
Worldwide, kidneys are the most commonly transplanted organs, followed by the liver and then the heart. Cornea and musculoskeletal grafts are the most commonly transplanted tissues; these outnumber organ transplants by more than tenfold.
Commenting on the deceased organ transplant in the nine year old, Dr Ali Obaidly, Director of UAE’s National organ transplant Committee, told Gulf News: “So far, nine cases of deceased organ transplants have taken place in the UAE. The nine deceased donors from Mafraq Hospital Abu Dhabi, donated various organs such as lungs, livers, kidneys, heart, tissue, bone marrow etc. Of these organs, four kidneys went to children. Three of the kidney recipients were from Abu Dhabi. Bana Nizar, who received the deceased donor’s kidney was the fourth child in UAE and the first in Dubai to receive the organ.”
Dr Obaidly also expressed his gratitude and appreciation for the donor family. “They decided to rise above their personal loss and grief and converted it into a blessing by giving this gift of life to those who needed them. I think we need to appreciate the positive attitude of both the national and expatriate community in the UAE which will encourage more cadaver organ transplant and make UAE a leader in organ transplantation in the region.”