Rowena and Homer Rapodos with their 11-year old daughter Samantha Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Homer and Rowena Rapadas share more than just their lives with each other. On September 12, Rowena donated one of her kidneys to her husband at the Shaikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC), Abu Dhabi.

For Homer, 45, who was on dialysis following kidney failure, his wife’s selfless donation has come like an early Christmas gift that has given him a fresh lease of life. They are looking forward to a celebrating a joyous Christmas with their 11-year old daughter, Samantha, as the near fatal condition of Homer has disappeared.

Homer, a staff nurse with SEHA ambulatory healthcare, suffered from a neurogenic bladder issue, which was congenital, that led to the failure of his kidneys. He has resumed work and is pain free.

He told Gulf News: “My condition was discovered accidentally during a routine test in 2011. I suffered from lower back pain, had frequent bouts of urination in the night. The tests indicated my creatinine levels were high. Had it been detected earlier, my kidneys could have been saved. By the time it was discovered the damage was done.”

His kidneys functioned until 2017 but in January 2018, he was put on dialys following total kidney failure.

When the Filipino couple met with the tranplant committee they were advised that transplant from a live and related donor held out a promise of complete recovery for him. That is when Rowena thought about going in for a tissue match.

She told Gulf News: “I decided to donate my kidney to my husband because this is a part of our wedding vows. From the time my cross matching laboratory test was done, one of my prayers to God was for my kidney to match. Our transplant coordinator at SKMC called us with the happy news of the positive match and we were overjoyed.”

A team of surgeons which included Dr Muhammad Badar Zaman, head of general, vascular and transplant surgery at SKMC, urologists from SKMC and also Dr Bashir Sankari from the Cleveland Clinic, Abu Dhabi carried out this complicated surgery.

Dr Zaman explained that the patient’s condition was not a straightforward kidney transplant case: “It required the removal of both his native kidneys prior to the actual transplant operation. So the patient had to undergo two surgeries with a month. First one to remove the native kidneys and the second one to put in the donor kidney. During the second surgery we had to create a diversion or stoma on the abdominal wall to collect urine as his bladder was not draining all the urine from the urinary tract.”

Homer recovered well and has reported back on duty.

Free kidney transplants

Kidney transplant for all UAE residents are carried out free-of-charge at SKMC said Dr Zaman. “We provide comprehensive renal care to residents of UAE. This includes free dialysis, transplant surgery and the life-long care of the recipients,” said Dr Zaman

In cases of underprivileged patients, Dr Zaman has also arranged for the expenses of a non-resident relative who required to travel to the UAE.

Commenting on the rising prevalence of kidney tranplants, Dr Zaman said, “Kidney transplant has become the treatment of choice today for hundreds of patients facing total kidney failure. Till date we have conducted nearly 255 organ transplants at Shaikh Khalifa Medical City of which eight were performed last month. Clearly our numbers are on the rise. We at SKMC regularly accept challenging cases which other centres will be reluctant to perform. This case is just one example of such difficult transplantations.”