Abu Dhabi: A proposed organ transplantation unit spearheaded by the Abu Dhabi government is awaiting the green light before work can begin by next year.

A task force, including nephrologists, anaesthesiologists and surgeons from Shaikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC), was formed by the Health Authority-Abu Dhabi (HA-AD) to analyse the hospital's level of readiness and set the criteria for transplantation prior to setting up the unit.

Dr Kenneth Ouriel, CEO of SKMC, told Gulf News the task force has had to weigh cultural sensitivities in making the decision.


"It is easy to open a transplant service line. The difficulty is related to the cultural barriers. We need to make sure what the exact mechanism is in the UAE with respect to religion and society," he said.

One point for the task force was the criteria for organ donation and the relationship between the donor and the recipient.

Dr Laila Abdul Wareth, chair of laboratory medicine at SKMC, said the committee has determined that related living donors were acceptable. However, the jury is still out on brain-dead or cadaver donors.

"A good solution is to have an independent organisation whose job is to co-ordinate organ transplants as well as evaluate the donor and recipient's suitability," she said.

She added that it would also minimise problems among the non-related donations to make sure they were not done for commercial or unethical purposes.

Otherwise, Dr Laila said the assessment was complete.

She also said that work for the establishment of the unit has begun. A transplant surgeon from the United States will arrive next month to set up a transplant team.


Responsibilities of the task force include reviewing the work of the GCC task force in organ transplantation and drafting a proposal to activate the organ transplantation law under HA-AD, among other things.

More than 320 patients need a new kidney, based on the number of patients undergoing dialysis at SKMC. In Dubai, more than 200 are undergoing dialysis at Dubai Hospital, which provides the service for free.