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Rameen Shahid with her father Mohammad Shahid. The teenager suffers from nephronophthisis. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: For the last seven years, Rameen Shahid had spent every night hooked up to a dialysis machine that helped rid her blood of toxins. A turn of events however saw the 13-year-old girl from Pakistan become the latest recipient in the UAE of a kidney from a deceased donor.

Following the transplant in the capital on Friday (February 15), Rameen is now recovering at Shaikh Khalifa Medical City’s Intensive Care Unit.

“My daughter’s kidneys failed when she turned about six years old, and since then, she has had to deal with daily dialysis. Her ailments meant she even had to drop out of formal schooling. So this donor kidney has really been a Godsend for us,” Rameen’s father Mohammad Shahid, 47, a mechanical foreman from Pakistan, told Gulf News.

“I would not know how to thank the donor and his/her family. I can only pray for the best for them all,” Rameen added.

Rameen is the fifth paediatric patient at the Shaikh Khalifa Medical City to receive a kidney from a deceased donor after the UAE’s laws on organ donations were updated in 2017, said Dr Zubeidaa Esmail, division head of paediatric nephrology at the hospital.

Genetic condition

“Rameen had a genetic condition called nephronophthisis. The condition is difficult to detect until it is in its advanced stage, and has already caused irreparable damage to the patient’s kidneys. For her, the transplant will mean a vastly improved quality of life. She will no longer have to undergo regular dialysis, making it easier for her to live a normal life,” Dr Esmail explained.

In fact, Rameen had had to drop out of school in Al Ain two years ago because her blood pressure would fluctuate and she would frequently feel fatigued.

She will now remain in the hospital for at least another week as doctors monitor her to ensure that the donor organ is not rejected. She will also be regularly assessed after discharge.

“My daughter appears to be doing well, and we are so happy, and so very grateful to her doctors and the UAE leadership. Rameen says she cannot wait to go back to school, and hopes to one day become a doctor herself. May her dreams come true,” the grateful father said.

Children biggest beneficiaries

The Shaikh Khalifa Medical City is the UAE’s first transplant centre, and it was there that the country’s first transplant using a kidney from a deceased donor was performed in 2013.

Top doctors at the hospital say that children have been the biggest beneficiaries of its kidney transplant programme since the country’s deceased donor laws were clarified in 2017.

“When we receive a donor organ, children in need are our priority, and I believe that most, if not all, of the kidneys we have transplanted since the new laws came into effect have been for paediatric patients,” said Dr Mohammad Badar Zaman, division chief for transplantation and hepatobiliary-pancreatic surgery at the hospital.

“The deceased donor laws are particularly important to help children who have genetic conditions because the hereditary nature of their diseases means that parents and siblings are often not suitable donors,” the doctor explained.