Any surgery is complicated and comes with risk, these are compounded due to physiological differences between children and adults and when donor organs are involved. Risks of organ rejection are of utmost concern and extensive preparation and standardized protocols need to be in place to mitigate these risks and increase the probability of success.
Ala’a Abdul Majid Al-Mahi, an 11-year-old girl originally from Sudan and living in Qatar, is one such success. She was the inaugural patient of the Pediatric Renal Transplant Program. Ala’a was on 24-hour peritoneal dialysis. The influence of dialysis on her lifestyle was two-fold; one was her limited ability to partake in outdoor activities, the other was inability to stay in school. This inactive lifestyle made Ala’a feel out of place amongst children her age. HMC’s Pediatric Nephrology Team believes that dialysis is not the right solution for treating renal failure long term and is more of a stop-gap approach until transplant surgery is possible, this is internationally recognized as the best treatment for end-stage and preemptive end-stage renal failure.
Ala’a and her family agreed to have the kidney transplant surgery performed. This was due to a variety of stars aligning. Her family’s motivation and optimism played a key role. They were ready to be the first case and placed their complete trust and faith in the Pediatric Renal Transplant Team, which in turn motivated and encouraged the team to ensure their utmost to ensure a positive outcome. The availability of a suitable donor, graciously provided by Ala’a’s uncle, was a major coup for the success of the procedure and living organs donated with familial ties has a greater probability of success and reduces the risk of the body rejecting the organ. In prepping Ala’a’s uncle to harvest the viable kidney, the Pediatric Surgery Organ Donation Center were extremely supportive throughout this process.
Ala’a did extremely well throughout the procedure and did not suffer any post-operative complications. She is currently home-schooled and the family has noticed a significant improvement in Ala’a’s overall quality of life. Ala’a’s father said, “The HMC Team here has been very supportive, friendly, and accommodating throughout Ala’a’s treatment. This has created a special bond between us to the point that we now feel like one big happy family.”
This strong and courageous little girl, the first child of the new Pediatric Renal Transplant Program at HMC, has paved the way for the many other children awaiting transplant surgeries. Spurred on by Ala’a’s success, the team is ready to move forward and help other children and their families. This success is also an imperative milestone for organ donation in Qatar. The number of donors has increased, particularly following Her Highness’s public support. The team hopes that the Ala’a’s story will inspire and increase support for the establishment of an organ donation culture in Qatar.