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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

Emirati enters record books through rugby ball-sized kidneys

Ahmed Saeed refused surgery in 2014 but had to go ahead with it when he found it difficult to walk and breathe. After the operation, his kidneys were found to be about 7kg each. 

Ahmad Saeed's kidneys have entered the record books after the pair, weighing in at a combined 13kg, were removed at Dubai Hospital. Reem Mohammed / The National
Ahmad Saeed's kidneys have entered the record books after the pair, weighing in at a combined 13kg, were removed at Dubai Hospital. Reem Mohammed / The National

The last thing on the mind of surgeon Dr Faibruz Bagheri was breaking a Guinness World Record as he began operating on an Emirati kidney patient at Dubai Hospital.

But that is exactly what happened, and Ahmed Saeed Mohammed Omar now waits for a kidney transplant in China after having both of his record-breaking rugby ball-sized organs removed.

The 56-year-old had been recommended for surgery two years before but had ignored medical advice.

In that time his kidneys continued to grow, making it difficult for him to walk and breathe as they compressed his other organs.

Suffering from hypertension and polycystic kidney disease, his organs had stopped working in 2014 and Mr Saeed had been on hemodialysis at Dubai Hospital.

Dubai Hospital’s head of Urology Department, Dr Faibruz Bagheri, broke a Guinness World Record during a surgery when he removed the world’s largest kidney. Photo courtesy Dubai Hospital
Dubai Hospital’s head of Urology Department, Dr Faibruz Bagheri, broke a Guinness World Record during a surgery when he removed the world’s largest kidney. Photo courtesy Dubai Hospital

An ultrasound revealed the unusual size of both kidneys. Without surgery, it is likely his condition would have proved fatal.

Dr Bagheri, Dubai Hospital’s head of urology, said although Mr Saeed’s condition was unusual, the number of patients seeking advice and help from his department has risen from 500 in 2010 to nearly 2,000 last year.

“Mr Saeed generously allowed us to publish his name and condition to encourage others to follow medical advice,” he said. “He was known since 2014 to have non-functioning kidneys. The scans confirmed he had huge kidneys.

“A normal kidney size is about the size of a fist and weighs about 150g - his kidneys weighed almost 7kg each.

“He refused surgery in 2014 due to the potential risks and complications. In 2016, he had serious symptoms as he was bloated and found it difficult to breathe.”

The successful surgery was performed on October 11, 2016 and Mr Saeed has recovered well. He is now awaiting travel to China next month to undergo a transplant, fully funded by the UAE Government.

Another patient with an overgrown kidney was operated on at Dubai Hospital three years ago. His kidneys weighing in at about 5kg each and would also have broken the world record but it was not considered by the medical team.

Mr Saeed’s case has only made it into the record books as the largest kidneys in the world after the surgeon’s son, Farhad – a 16-year-old pupil at American International School - told his father to contact Guinness.

“We took photos at the time for medical research but never thought about a world record,” added Dr Bagheri.

“Immediately after the surgery we took measurements; they weighed 6.95kg and 6.10kg each, so they were very unusual.

“When I told my son in the car, he said it was a great thing and we should apply for a Guinness record. He took out his smartphone and applied there and then.”

Farhad submitted the application on his reluctant father’s behalf, and it is now an official world record.

“I had seen YouTube videos about world records and knew it was a special thing so I asked my dad to apply,” he said. “The Guinness records are huge; everyone knows about it.

“Dad didn’t want me to apply and said it wasn’t important. I didn’t expect to get a reply. I didn’t tell my friends at school so they would be surprised when they read about it.”

The records would only have been valid with a photo of them weighed on an electric scale, which was not done at the time of the operation.

Luckily, the hospital had kept the organs, so they were weighed and photographed six months later. Although they now weighed just over 4kg, as they had lost fluid and some had been cut away for tests, they were still almost twice the weight of the previous world record of 2.14kg.

“My life is completely different now,” said Mr Saeed, who lives with his family in Karama, Dubai.

“I couldn’t go swimming or walk without being tired and I would always be cross with my wife. I am much happier now. I didn’t want to do anything before and kept to myself.

“Now, I can go to the beach and see my friends. I feel so much better. I wish I had done it sooner. When I have my transplant, I will have a normal life.

“When I saw the size of the kidneys, I was shocked and very surprised.”