SHARJAH // When Hussanzari Muhammad Amroze, 46, was diagnosed with kidney failure six years ago, doctors told her she needed a transplant to survive. It was a bitter blow for her husband, Syed, 48; the couple had already lost their 12-year-old son in an accident two years earlier.
"After two years of grief and of neglecting her health, I was faced with the possibility that I would lose her as well," he said. None of their relatives, however, were able to act as donors, either because they could not undergo the surgery or because their organs did not represent suitable "matches". "At the time, you could buy a kidney off the black market in Pakistan," said Mr Amroze. "It was our only choice. We have six living children, and we are grandparents," he said. "We have a good life here together. I did not want to consider that I would lose my wife and knew I had to do whatever I could to find her a kidney."
He found one, but now that too is giving out and Mrs Amroze again must rely on a dialysis machine at Sharjah's Al Qassimi Hospital. Yesterday's announcement allowing the use of organs from deceased donors has given the couple, who are originally from Pakistan but have lived in the UAE for 30 years, hope. "If we can get on an organ transplant list and find a kidney for my wife, there is no way I would travel abroad if I could keep her safe and comfortable here, in our home," said Mr Amroze.
His wife is one of thousands of patients undergoing dialysis in the UAE. Mariam Khalfan, the director of the Friends of Kidney Patients Society, which operates under the Supreme Council for Family Affairs in Sharjah, said the new rules would give patients of kidney disease a new lease of life. "Allowing transplants of this sort will help so much," she said. "Now, when a doctor tells a patient that you cannot live any longer on dialysis and need a transplant, that patient will have a chance to get that transplant."
None of the patients helped through Mrs Khalfan's society had ever considered transplants as an option before, she said, adding that patients were often hesitant about asking a family member to donate an organ. "Now we will be able to help these patients a great deal more; our volunteers collect donations to help pay for dialysis and treatment and now we will work on facilitating transplants." Dr Akhtarul Iman, a specialist in nephrology at Al Qassimi Hospital, said the use of transplants from deceased donors was a worldwide practice that had to make its way to the UAE.
"This is an advance in medicine that we have to start making use of," he said. "One dead person's kidneys can save the lives of two people, so imagine what we can do by harvesting the eyes, the liver, the heart and so on." Al Qassimi hospital alone has 130 patients registered for kidney dialysis, with two to three more arriving every day. "There is a huge demand [for transplantation], so really, this law can change everything," said Dr Iman.
Mr Amroze, who works for a contracting company in Sharjah, says he will be the first to sign up as a donor, to make sure his organs are used to save the lives of others. "I am ready to donate every organ in my body, because when I die, I will be rewarded for doing this good deed, and the person I help will be blessed with the gift of life," he said. "And I love my wife too much to just sit back and do nothing."
As for his wife, Mrs Amroze said that this law has given her hope. "I am so relieved, because we do not want to ask for help or for charity," she said. "What we want is just a law that can stand by us." firstname.lastname@example.org