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Abu Dhabi: Kidney transplant recipients have urged the public to follow healthier lifestyles that will help protect their vital organs on the occasion of World Kidney Day (March 14).

“When the doctor told me that my kidneys were barely functional, it hit me really hard and I couldn’t help tearing up. Take it from someone who’s been there: you don’t want to face a similar situation,” said Eid Ali Obaid, a 40-year-old Emirati government worker.

Kidney disease essentially crept up on Ali Obaid, and when he was diagnosed with kidney failure in August 2018, it was already very late.

“We call kidney failure a silent condition. When the patient begins experiencing symptoms like shortness of breath, fatigue and fluid retention, it means that their kidney function has already fallen to 25 per cent or less. And the best way to avoid the failure of these vital organs is to live a healthy lifestyle and consume a healthy diet with limited salt,” said Dr Nizar Attallah, consultant nephrologist at the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.

Eat responsibly, and avoid fatty foods and so drinks. Consume less salt. I speak from personal experience when I say that it is devastating to learn that your kidneys have failed, so stay healthy for as long as you can.

- EID ALI OBAID

World Kidney Day is marked internationally on the second Thursday in March to raise awareness about the importance of keeping kidneys healthy.

The widespread prevalence of diabetes, obesity and hypertension are direct contributors to the prevalence of chronic kidney disease in the UAE. About 1,600 people in the country are also known to undergo regular dialysis, according to the Emirates Nephrology Society.

“With dialysis, patients can expect a survival rate of five per cent, on average. Of course, the survival rate doubles with a kidney transplant, keeping in mind other factors like age, genetics and other risk factors,” Dr Attallah explained.

Ali Obaid was fortunate enough not to have to undergo dialysis, which can take up a significant chunk of time for patients who need to undergo it on a regular basis.

Drink two bottles of water every day, and avoid zzy drinks. Limit your salt intake as much as possible. If you have a family member with kidney disease, get yourself screened too.

- HAMED ABDUL QADER WITH SON AHMAD

“As soon as we found out that my kidney function was very low, my wife insisted on donating her kidney to me. We were a perfect match, and so I underwent a transplant in October last year,” he said.

“Looking back, I wish I had been more responsible with my health,” Ali Obaid added.

Hamed Al Khatheri, 60, an Emirati resident in the capital, also received a kidney transplant last year at the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi last year.

“I have been suffering from hypertension for many years, and was diagnosed with kidney disease in 1995. When my kidney function declined significantly last year, my 25-year-old son Ahmad donated his kidney to me,” he said.

Al Khatheri urged others to drink at least two bottles of water every day, and to eat healthy.

“And if you have a family member suffering from kidney disease, make sure to get yourself screened too,” he said, echoing Dr Attallah’s recommendation.

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Kidney facts Image Credit: Emirates Nephrology Society