Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi played a major role in the swap, carried out under the Abu Dhabi Paired Kidney Donation Programme Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Three patients have received lifesaving organ transplants in a triple swap kidney transplant in Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi’s multi-organ transplant Centre, the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, played a major role in the groundbreaking swap, carried out under the Abu Dhabi Paired Kidney Donation Programme. The programme works with leading hospitals in the region to match transplant recipients with compatible donors.

Kidneys are the most transplanted organ globally, as in the UAE. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Transplant Centre has performed a total of 379 transplants since its inception in 2017, and the majority have been kidney transplants.

This recent successful collaboration between the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi and another local hospital to complete three simultaneous transplants further reinforces the UAE’s vision, and establishes the country as a preferred healthcare destination in the region for patients seeking a compatible donor, as well as an opportunity to combat kidney failure, the hospital said in a statement.

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Paired programme

Dr Bashir Sankari, chair of the hospital’s Urology, Surgical Subspecialties Institute explained the process of matching donors and recipients in a paired donation programme.

“When a patient requires a transplant, a possible donor may agree to donate their organ, but sometimes tests reveal that the kidney is not a medical match. For example, a brother may want to donate one of his kidneys to his ailing sister but is found to be incompatible due to factors such as blood group or genetic differences, or due to the presence of antibodies. Separately, a husband may want to donate a kidney to his wife but is not able to due to a similar situation. In such situations, a solution could be to test whether these unrelated individuals are a match for each other. By doing so, each pair can receive a compatible kidney and undergo a successful transplantation,” Dr Sankari said.

“We are proud that we were able to partner in this milestone procedure between three groups of unrelated individuals that saved three lives,” he added.

The Abu Dhabi Paired Kidney Donation Programme operates under the National Programme for Donation and Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissue - ‘Hayat’ - and is supported by healthcare authorities and organisations, including the Ministry of Health and Prevention, the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, and the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA). Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is now exploring the expansion of this program to Cleveland Clinic in the United States, which will unlock more opportunities to facilitate life-saving solutions for kidney disease patients. The expansion would also increase the number of organs available for UAE residents.

“It is crucial that people understand the importance of organ donation and choose to be a donor irrespective of whether the organ saves the life of their family member, friend or an unrelated individual. Many patients remain on the transplant waiting list for too long, which puts their lives in danger. Programmes such as Paired Kidney Donation highlight joint efforts of the partnerships within the healthcare ecosystem of the UAE, which ensures that every patient receives world-class care at the right time,” Dr Sankari said.

Residents can record their willingness to become organ donors in the UAE by registering on the Hayat app, which was launched in November 2022.