Posted on January 19, 2017

The Organ Transplant Team at Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Hamad General Hospital has successfully performed Qatar’s first ever liver transplant from a living donor. The latest transplant, which took place in November, makes a total of 17 liver transplants from living donors performed since the commencement of the transplant program at HMC. Each year, between 20 and 25 patients are added to the waiting list for organ transplantation in Qatar.

Dr. Yousef Al Maslamani, Medical Director of Hamad General Hospital and Head of the Organ Transplant Committee at HMC, said: “The transplant was planned and performed by HMC’s highly qualified team of liver transplant surgeons, anesthetists, nurses and technicians. The procedure consisted of the partial resection of the donor’s liver, which took eight hours to complete, and the removal of the recipient’s liver. Implanting the donated portion of the liver in the recipient’s body who suffered from liver cirrhosis took 12 hours to complete. This successful transplant procedure also saw the participation of a team of visiting Korean organ transplant surgeons.”

“There are future plans to increase liver transplants in Qatar from live and brain-dead donors. HMC's Qatar Center for Organ Transplantation and the Qatar Organ Donation Center (Hiba) are relentless in their efforts to encourage new organ donors to enroll in the donor registry, with the ultimate goal of helping patients who are currently awaiting a lifesaving transplant,” added Dr. Al Maslamani.

Dr. Hatem Khalaf, Senior Consultant and Clinical Lead of HMC’s HPB and Liver Transplant Services, who led the local transplant team, stated: “There are certain criteria that both a donor and recipient should meet before a procedure can be done. The criteria for the donor include motivation to donate the organ for altruistic reasons, verification of the relation of donor to the recipient, compatibility of blood type with the recipient and being between the ages of 18 and 45 and free from chronic diseases.” “Following these criteria being verified, a series of preoperative tests are performed to determine if a donor is medically suitable for the procedure. These tests include x-rays and ultrasound imaging to assess the size of the liver, and a liver biopsy (sample of tissue taken from the body in order to examine it more closely).  A psychosocial and social evaluation of the donor are also conducted by a competent committee from Hiba,” said Dr. Khalaf.

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“In the case of this recent transplant, the right lobe of the donor’s liver, totaling 65 percent of the liver mass, was resected and implanted in the recipient’s body, following the removal of the cirrhosis-ridden liver. The donor recovered and was discharged from hospital one week after the procedure. The recipient remained under the care of HMC for two weeks and was then discharged,” explained Dr. Khalaf. The organ recipient, 58 year-old Ashraf Zaid, expressed gratitude to the leadership of Qatar and HMC’s team of surgeons for their compassion and the exceptional care provided to him.

Reflecting on his journey with the illness, Mr. Zaid stated: “My journey with this illness started when I was diagnosed with liver cirrhosis in 2014. I was immediately provided with the necessary treatment at Hamad General Hospital. In 2016, I developed a liver tumor and needed to undergo chemotherapy. However, my healthcare team concluded that a liver transplant was the only way to save my life. Therefore, doctors started with the required preoperative tests with the hope of finding a donor in my household. Unfortunately, organ donation by my son was not possible due to blood-type incompatibility so I went back home to Egypt in search of a possible donor. While in Egypt, I received a call from Hamad General Hospital advising that a donor was found and I had to return to Doha. Upon arrival in Doha, I was surprised to find out that the donor was my nephew.”

The donor, Usama Taher Zaid, 26 years old, said: “The love and compassion bestowed on me by my uncle following the death of my father prompted me to give him the gift of life. Dr. Hatem Khalaf explained all aspects of the procedure to me and gave me ample time to think about it before I made my final decision. Soon after that, the necessary tests and laboratory work were done and the procedure took place.” “I am grateful to HMC’s team of surgeons for saving my uncle’s life and for ensuring that I am also well. We are both fully recovered and are each leading a normal life,” Mr. Zaid added.