Doha, 19 May, 2019: A team of kidney transplant surgeons at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has successfully performed a rare kidney transplant operation that has allowed a patient to receive a kidney from a donor with a different blood type.
In practice, kidney donors must have a compatible blood type with their recipient. If blood types are not compatible, the donor is not able to donate directly to the recipient – making the recent transplant surgery remarkable and a first for both HMC and the country.
With this unprecedented surgery, HMC has become one of only a few organ transplant centers in the world to successfully perform an organ transplant surgery involving a donor and recipient whose blood types do not match. HMC has now joined an elite group, with only five percent of centers worldwide performing organ transplant operations on patients with incompatible blood types.
Dr. Yousuf Al Maslamani, Medical Director of HMC’s Hamad General Hospital and Head of Qatar Organ Transplant Center said the surgery is an important milestone for both HMC and Qatar.
“Thanks to the great advancement of the healthcare sector in Qatar, this magnificent accomplishment has been achieved. Advancements in our healthcare sector coupled with highly trained clinical teams and state-of-the-art medical technology have placed Qatar’s healthcare system among the best in the world.”
“A great deal of preoperative preparation work, cutting-edge technology, and specialized surgical expertise are required for this rare type of surgery and as such very few organ transplant centers are able to take on this complex operation,” said Dr. Al Maslamani.
Dr. Al Maslamani explained that transplants involving a donor and recipient with different blood types are rare. He said most people have natural antibodies in their blood that would cause their immune system to reject an organ from someone with a different blood type. He added that preparation for these complex surgeries started with HMC’s laboratory where antibodies were removed from the recipient’s blood through a repeated filtration process that was followed by routine tests to check the levels of antibodies in the blood.
“The success of a transplant between a donor and a recipient whose blood types do not match opens the door for more transplants from living donors. With this in mind, we anticipate a 20 percent rise in the number of kidney transplants performed each year in Qatar. Last year around 20 organ transplant surgeries, involving living and deceased donors were performed at HMC,” said Dr. Al Maslamani.
In Qatar, kidney transplantation from living donors is only performed among related family members. The first kidney transplant surgery in Qatar was performed in 1986 and the Doha Organ Donation Accord has become the cornerstone for the development of organ transplantation services in Qatar. Only ten days following the official opening of the Qatar Center for Organ Transplantation in late 2011, the first liver transplant surgery was successfully performed in Qatar.
Dr. Al Maslamani went on to say that over the last three decades HMC has developed a robust organ donation program and is currently preparing to launch a pancreas transplantation program.
“We have the skilled clinical teams and state-of-the-art medical technology needed to launch a pancreatic transplantation program, but we haven’t yet had a case that meets the medical requirements,” added Dr. Al Maslamani.
“In Qatar, we have kidney, liver, stem cell, and cornea transplantation programs, and transplant surgeries are performed by a team of highly skilled professionals. We have state-of-the-art facilities and provide safe and compassionate care,” concluded Dr. Al Maslamani.
There are currently more than 345,000 people on Qatar’s organ donor registry, and it is hoped this number will increase to 400,000 registered donors by the end of the year.
An organ transplant can be a life-saving procedure and can significantly improve the quality of life for someone with chronic organ failure. A deceased organ donor can save up to eight lives.