Abu Dhabi: A new Ministry of Health law will help improve the lives of thousands of people, a top official said on Tuesday.

Dr Ali Abdul Kareem Al Obaidli, chair of the National Organ Transplant Committee, consultant on nephrology and kidney transplantation at Shaikh Khalifa Medical City, and chief clinical officer for the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA), stressed the importance of organ transplants.

Dr Al Obaidli said organ transplant surgery was "one of the medical miracles of the 21st century, that has prolonged and improved the lives of thousands of patients worldwide."

"Legally, the new guiding principals on organ [transplants] are effective, but we still need time to train our physicians, nurses and transplant team members, and introduce public education about donation and organ [transplants]," he said.


"Not all licensed hospitals across the UAE will be granted permission to undergo the organ [transplant] surgery, only the ones that the MoH agrees to."

The UAE Ministry of Health approved multi-organ transplant after death, given the individual, and/or his first and second degree relatives, provide a written consent or approval.

Circular number 566/2010, issued by the health ministry on May 16, states that if an individual chooses to donate his or her organs for use in a transplant surgery, he or she is allowed to do so, given that they illustrate their approval through a written consent and signature, alongside that of two other witnesses.

The circular also states that after an individual's death, the individual's first and second degree relatives have the right to donate his or her organs after death, even if the donor did not provide a written will regarding the matter prior to his or her death.

Procedure: What the law says

The Ministry of Health circular number 566/2010 states that:

- A medical committee consisting of a Neurologist and two other doctors (neither of whom is allowed to be a surgeon), has been formed to investigate confirmed deaths, of individuals donating their organs after death.

- The National Organ Transplant Committee established by the Ministerial Rule Number 1045 in 2009, has approved a document on the UAE bylaws on organ transplantation.

Q&A: Facilities required

In order to successfully procure organs from brain-dead patients, it is essential that an infrastructure for the necessary processes and procedures is in place, said Dr Abrar Khan, head of the transplant programme at Shaikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC). The Development of this infrastructure will take time — perhaps 1-2 years — thus the full impact of the law will not be felt till then.


GULF NEWS: How will the new law benefit SKMC transplantation programme?

DR ABRAR KHAN: We will be able to transplant more patients and will be able to, eventually, extend our transplants to pancreas, liver, lungs, heart, etc. However, this will require the infrastructure mentioned above.


How many patients do you expect to have organ transplant this year?

We expect about 20 kidney transplants and 1-2 livers.


When will you start liver transplantation?

As soon as we have a suitable donor and recipient.


With this new law in place, what is the percentage of increase in number of surgeries we will do?

The maximum number of patients transplanted will take many years and the presence of the infrastructure mentioned above. When all potential is fully realised, I expect about 50 kidneys, 20 livers, 5 pancreases per year.