Saeed had been diagnosed with kidney failure even before he was born Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Three-year-old Saeed Khamis Al Shamsi is Dubai’s youngest kidney transplant recipient.

The life of the Emirati child battling kidney failure was saved by a medical team at Al Jalila Children’s Hospital on his third birthday on December 22, 2023, Dubai Health exclusively told Gulf News.

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Saeed’s journey began with a diagnosis of kidney failure before birth. The condition was exacerbated by prune-belly syndrome, also known as brown belly.

Prune belly syndrome is a rare condition that gets its name because weak or absent abdominal wall muscles make an infant’s belly look wrinkled like prunes.

From around the age of one, little Saeed had to endure the gruelling routine of dialysis three to four times weekly, each session lasting over four hours. Though his condition necessitated urgent intervention, the family had to wait for a matching donor for a kidney transplant.

“Suffering through the uncertainties leading up to Saeed’s transplant was an emotional roller-coaster for our family, as he was forced to undergo dialysis on a regular basis,” recalled his mother.

Saeed is keeping well now, his mother says Image Credit: Supplied

Call on birthday

Then, on Saeed's third birthday, the family had received a call from Al Jalila Children’s Hospital, the first specialised paediatric hospital in the UAE within the Dubai Health network, with the news that a matching kidney has been procured from a deceased donor.

“That call amidst our celebration of Saeed’s third birthday changed everything. Despite our anxiety, the medical staff reassured us, providing compassionate care and attention throughout,” said his mother.

A team led by Dr Waldo Concepcion, deputy medical director, Al Jalila Children’s Hospital, consultant, Transplant Surgery - Dubai Health, and professor of Surgery, Mohammed Bin Rashid University, conducted the transplant surgery on the same day.

Expressing the family’s gratitude, Saeed’s mother said: “Witnessing Saeed’s recovery, his ability to continue growing normally and performing his daily activities, fills us with immeasurable joy and gratitude. Gratefully, Saeed has regained his health, enabling him to walk and thrive as any child should. We can’t thank enough the donor’s family, the team of Al Jalila Children’s Hospital and the wider team in Dubai Health for the continued support, care, and constant follow-up they provided.”

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100 kidney transplants

Dubai Health said in a statement to Gulf News that the achievement stands as a testament to its commitment to providing the highest level of healthcare and Al Jalila Children’s Hospital’s dedication to the well-being of patients and their families.

Dr Mohammed Al Awadhi, deputy CEO of Al Jalila Children’s Hospital and Latifa Hospital, said: “We are proud of Saeed’s successful surgery. This milestone joins the roster of medical achievements under Dubai Health, the first integrated academic health system in Dubai, is steadfast in its mission to elevate healthcare standards and improve health outcomes. It not only bolsters Dubai’s standing as a hub for similar organ transplants but also underscores our commitment to leveraging advanced capabilities, resources, and technology across our affiliated hospitals. Our dedication to our ‘Patient First’ promise remains paramount as we continue to attract talent and drive excellence in healthcare.”

By 2024, 100 kidney transplants were performed in Dubai, 40 per cent of which were carried out at Al Jalila Children’s Hospital alone. This progress underscores the hospital’s commitment to providing advanced healthcare in a friendly environment tailored to the unique needs of children facing serious kidney ailments, Dubai Health added.