A UAE hospital will begin offering liver, heart and lung transplants for the first time meaning patients will no longer have to travel abroad for treatment.
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi announced on Tuesday that its surgeons successfully completed one of each surgery from deceased donors making it the first multi organ transplant programme in the country.
Until now only kidney transplants have been performed at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi and Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, the only other hospital to offer transplant surgery in Abu Dhabi.
The UAE’s first deceased donor full liver transplant was performed on February 1 by a five-person medical and surgical team led by transplant surgeon Dr Antonio Pinna.
Ten days later, on February 11, the country’s first deceased donor lung transplant was performed by Dr Redha Souilamas, chief of thoracic surgery.
In December last year, surgeons at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi performed the UAE’s first full heart transplant, while a team from the hospital conducted kidney transplants from a deceased donor in September 2017.
“Physicians at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi have created history in the UAE by developing a comprehensive multi-organ transplant programme which is already transforming patients’ lives,” a statement from the hospital said.
Sheikh Abdullah Al Hamed, chairman of the Department of Health, said he was proud of the medical milestones achieved in the country.
“This progress shows just how far the UAE has come in providing advanced medical services which enable patients to receive the very best care at home.”
He said the next step was to foster and support a “robust culture of organ donation to make it easy for people to gift their organs.
“We are seeing the incredible impact that organ donation is having on multiple lives within the UAE, and are receiving regular inquiries from people looking to donate, so will work with our partners to make the process easier and more accessible,” he said.
To date, a system for donation has not yet been outlined but doctors speculate it will be linked to a resident’s Emirates ID. Officials said details on a policy for donation will be announced next week.
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, part of Mubadala’s network of healthcare providers, has worked closely with the Cleveland Clinic Transplant Centre in the US and co-operates with facilities across the region, opening the hospital up for a wider pool of potential donors. The programme, the hospital said, is open to all UAE residents.
“There is growing public support for organ donation in the UAE, and this is not surprising because the UAE has a historic culture of donation in general,” said Dr Ali Al Obaidli, chair of the National Transplant Committee, said.
“We are currently working on plans to extend this effort further through a community outreach program. Already, we have been contacted by many people who have expressed an interest in donating their organs after they die and we would like to open a UAE donor registry to the public in the near future.”
Chief administrative officer, Hasan Al Nowais said that the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed forces, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, is personally involved with the programme by tracking the progress of each transplant patient.
Dr Rakesh Suri, chief executive of Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, said: “The hospital is pleased to be able to repay just a small amount of the trust placed in us by the people of Abu Dhabi by ensuring that some of the sickest patients we treat are now able to receive cutting edge surgical and medical treatment without travelling abroad.”
Dr Suri said that as a heart surgeon he can only impact one life at a time but as the chief executive of Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi he and the team are able to help hundreds and thousands of patients to come.
However, he said another part of the hospital’s mandate is to train the next generation of Emirati doctors. “This is part of our sustainability plan,” he said.