Abu Dhabi: About five years ago, an Emirati mother-of-four donated her kidney to her daughter. But when Maryam’s teenage son developed the same kidney disease, it was a kidney from a deceased donor that gave him another lease on life.
Now, a third child of Maryam is in need of a transplant, and she hopes that sharing her experience will encourage more people to donate their organs.
When we first saw Eissa, his heart was in good shape, but when he started the dialysis, his heart function began deteriorating rapidly. Unfortunately, some children do not take to this treatment well and that is why a kidney transplant is lifesaving.
“All of my children, three boys and a girl, suffer from kidney issues. Each one started experiencing health problems at a different age. I had already donated a kidney to my daughter, and none of my family members were in a position to donate to my son – Eissa – due to health reasons,” Maryam said.
Like his sister who had received Maryam’s kidney, Eissa had congenital nephrotic syndrome, a condition that eventually leads to irreversible kidney failure. Having undergone dialysis, he ended up urgently needing a kidney transplant in 2019, and his family then placed their hopes on the UAE donor registry.
“Eissa did not have a normal childhood. There were always restrictions on what he could eat, he was on medications and he could not play basketball because of the dialysis. I told him that he [just had] to be patient and that he would soon be able to do whatever he liked,” Maryam said.
Eissa presented to Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi (CCAD) in 2019 with renal failure. A statement from the hospital said he was initially evaluated for a living kidney donor, but no potential family donor could be identified. Eissa was then placed on the registry for a transplant.
Doctors at the hospital began dialysis to keep his body in balance while they waited for an available organ. As a treatment, dialysis performs the functions of a healthy kidney, such as removing waste, salt and excess water, keeping a safe level of certain chemicals in the blood, and helping to control blood pressure. But the situation became dire when the youngster’s heart began failing.
“When we first saw Eissa, his heart was in good shape, but when he started the dialysis, his heart function began deteriorating rapidly. Unfortunately, some children do not take to this treatment well and that is why a kidney transplant is lifesaving. We are fortunate that a donor was found on time and this young boy has been given a second chance in life,” said Dr Bashir Sankari, chair of Surgical Subspecialties Institute at CCAD.
Patients with end-stage kidney disease requiring dialysis are at an increased risk of heart failure. Several factors, such as fluid overload, the heart’s inability to relax between beats – known as diastolic dysfunction, arterial stiffness and valvular heart disease, may contribute to the problem in these patients. An underlying ventricular dysfunction in patients undergoing dialysis can also heighten the risk of heart failure.
“His existing heart condition was only evident after the kidney transplant. Had we continued with dialysis for longer, he would have gone into full heart failure and would have required a heart transplant [too],” Dr. Sankari said.
Under the care of a multidisciplinary team, the operation was successfully conducted in four hours in October 2020. The teenager is now recovering at home with ongoing monitoring by the CCAD’s heart, vascular and kidney transplant teams.
“I urge people to register as donors in the UAE’s transplant programme. I have done so myself as I feel strongly about it. I want people to know that donating organs is an amazing thing to do, especially a kidney, as you can live normally with just one,” Maryam said.
“It hurts to see your children waste their life in hospitals. This gift by an anonymous donor has saved Eissa’s life and I am be eternally grateful. Now my older son is in need of a kidney and I’m hopeful that we will receive one soon,” the concerned mother added.