First Kidney Transplant Performed at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi

Living donor kidney transplant from son to mother launches program

Surgeons have performed the first kidney transplant at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi (CCAD). The living related donor procedure this spring heralds the medical center’s development of a comprehensive transplant center.

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The patient, a 73-year-old United Arab Emirates (UAE) national with diabetes and hypertension, received a kidney donated by her son. She is receiving follow-up care from a team of CCAD physicians, social workers, dieticians and transplant coordinators.

“By coming to the hospital for a pre-emptive transplant before needing to commence dialysis treatment, the patient has been able to increase both her quality and quantity of life,” says urologist Bashir Sankari, MD, Chief of the Surgical Subspecialties Institute at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi and lead surgeon for the operation.

“Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi aims to bring multidisciplinary expertise in a range of fields to the UAE, and this first successful transplant operation demonstrates the huge positive impact that these operations can offer,” Dr. Sankari notes. A veteran of Cleveland Clinic for more than 25 years, Dr. Sankari has performed more than 1,000 kidney transplants.

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Need for transplant is great in UAE

More than 2,000 patients in the UAE currently undergo regular dialysis treatment for kidney diseases. In its 2016 Global Report on Diabetes, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated the prevalence of people with diabetes (adults 18+ years) at 13.7 percent in the Eastern Mediterranean region, the highest among all regions worldwide in 2014. In addition, WHO estimates high blood glucose age-standardized mortality rates per 100,000 by WHO region (age 20+) as highest in Eastern Mediterranean region at 139.6 (compared to the European region, the lowest rate, at 55.7).

Legislative changes opening the door

The UAE has made significant progress in the legal framework surrounding organ transplants in recent years. Recent changes in legislation legalize cadaver transplantation in the Emirates, and CCAD is preparing to become part of a national deceased-donor program. The National Organ Transplant Committee is developing a system to allow residents to register as possible donors via their Emirates ID Card.

Comprehensive transplant center at CCAD

CCAD’s transplant center will support a full range of procedures, including kidney, liver, heart and lung transplantation. The medical center’s group practice model, which brings together a broad spectrum of specialists from a variety of disciplines, will provide supporting personnel for the new center.

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Cleveland Clinic surgeons were among the first to perform kidney transplantation beginning in 1963. Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Renal and Pancreas Transplantation offers a complete services for patients with advanced renal failure facing the possibility of renal replacement therapy.