Fatima* and her mother have a bond closer than blood: a kidney. They are also the first participants in the Aga Khan University Hospital’s new kidney transplant programme that aims to deliver a service of the highest quality in the private health sector, whilst taking care of patients in need.
Suffering from chronic kidney disease, 26-year-old Fatima had been on dialysis for three years before coming to the University Hospital. Her kidneys were functioning so poorly that her options were quite limited. She could either continue the dialysis for as long as possible or decide on a kidney transplant.
For most patients suffering from end-stage kidney failure, a kidney transplant is the best treatment, surgically replacing a damaged kidney with a kidney that has been donated by a deceased or a living donor.
Fortunately for Fatima, she was lucky to find a match from a living donor, her own mother. Both underwent surgery and have recovered together.
The University Hospital has a rigourous programme to evaluate whether a patient is suitable for a transplant. A dedicated renal transplant clinic is available with a trained team of nephrologists who counsel patients needing a kidney transplant and evaluate their suitability for the surgery. Besides checking for genetic compatibility, both the donor and the patient’s general health and well-being are assessed. The clinic also provides post-transplant long-term follow-up for transplant recipients and their donors.
In Pakistan, more than 15,000 new cases of chronic kidney disease are diagnosed each year, and the two major causes are diabetes mellitus and hypertension. Early diagnosis and careful treatment can help the disease from getting worse. However, most patients do not have many symptoms and generally consult a doctor when the disease is already advanced.
“Unfortunately, once an individual develops chronic kidney disease, it cannot be treated with conventional medical treatment and the person will require dialysis or a transplant,” said Dr Amanullah Memon.
“Dialysis is not a long-term solution as patients are not able to follow routine activities due to their dialysis schedule, infections are always a risk, and well-being is compromised. On the other hand, a kidney transplant is considered the treatment of choice for an improved quality of life,” added Dr Waqar Kashif.
Drs Taqi Toufeeq Khan, Amanullah Memon and Khalid Samad led the transplant surgery team. A nephrology team led by Drs Waqar Kashif and Abdul Mabood Khalil, a pathology team led by Dr Tariq Moatter, and technical staff from operating room and nursing services, supported them.
Professor Syed Adeeb-ul-Hasan Rizvi and his colleagues at the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT) supported the establishment of this programme by training staff.
*name changed to protect the patient’s privacy