Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has added yet another feather in its cap by becoming one of the very few organ transplant centres in the world that perform transplant surgery for a donor and recipient whose blood type does not match. These centres represent only 5% of the total organ transplant centres worldwide. It was announced last week that a team of kidney transplant surgeons at HMC has successfully performed a rare kidney transplant for a patient whose blood type is incompatible with that of the donor. The surgery was a first for Qatar. It is considered unprecedented as under normal circumstances, a blood type match between the donor and recipient of an organ, like a whole liver or kidney, is a must. As medical director of HMC’s Hamad General Hospital and head of Qatar Organ Transplant Centre, Dr Yousuf al-Maslamani, said the great leap has been possible thanks to the great advancement of the healthcare sector in Qatar, highly trained clinical teams and state-of-the-art medical technology.
This feat is proof that Qatar’s healthcare system is among the best in the world. As explained by Dr al-Maslamani, a great deal of preoperative preparation work, specialised technology, and certain surgical expertise are needed for this rare type of surgery. That is the reason why very few organ transplant centres take up this laborious task. Preparation for this type of surgery starts at the laboratory, then work moves to the hospital where the antibodies are removed from the recipient’s blood through a repeated filtration process. Following the transplant, the recipient will have to undergo routine tests as well as daily tests to check levels of antibodies in the blood to ensure that they are within normal range. In the event the antibodies rate was found to be higher than normal the filtration process would be repeated as a precautionary measure.
The success of the transplant between a donor and a recipient whose blood-type do not match opens the door for more transplants from living donors. Dr al-Maslamani anticipates a 20% rise in the number of kidney transplants in Qatar. About 20 organ transplant surgeries, involving living and brain-dead donors, have been performed at HMC last year. In Qatar, kidney transplantation from living donors is only performed among related family members, and the available state-of-the-art technologies have made it possible to extract kidneys from living donors through simple laparoscopic procedures.
The first kidney transplant surgery in Qatar was performed in 1986, but the Doha Organ Donation Accord became the cornerstone for the development of organ transplantation services in the country. In September 2010, the national organ donation campaign was launched with a view to turn HMC into a national centre for multi-organ transplant. Only 10 days following the official opening of the Qatar Centre for Organ Transplantation in late 2011, the first liver transplant surgery was successfully performed in Qatar.
HMC also has a cornea transplantation programme and is ready to launch pancreatic transplantation as well from deceased donors. An organ transplant can be a life-saving procedure and can significantly improve the quality of life for someone with chronic organ failure. The organs come from deceased donors who have pledged during their lifetime to donate their organs to someone in need. A deceased organ donor can save up to eight lives. HMC has made Qatar proud again.
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