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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

Emirati father-of-six is first to undergo liver transplant in UAE

Mohammed Al Kuthairi suffered excruciating pain for five years but 20 days after his surgery he is healthier than ever before

Mohammad Al Kuthairi is the first person to undergo a liver transplant in the UAE. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Mohammad Al Kuthairi is the first person to undergo a liver transplant in the UAE. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Mohammed Al Kuthairi says he would be dead today if not for the liver transplant surgery he had in Abu Dhabi this month.

“I was a few minutes away from being dead”, the 60-year-old Emirati says. “I couldn’t even get out of bed.”

Today, the father of six is so healthy that his younger siblings jokingly suggest that he remarry.

Mr Al Kuthairi is the first person to undergo a liver transplant in the UAE.

He had been suffering from liver failure complicated by an accumulation of fluid in the abdomen and an infection of the inner wall of the abdomen. He also suffered gastrointestinal bleeding.

He suffered excruciating pain for five years but 20 days after his surgery, he is healthier than ever before and wants the public to know the life changing difference they can make by consenting to organ donations after death.

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A five-person medical and surgical team performed his surgery on February 1. Two weeks after the surgery, which lasted eight hours, Mr Al Kuthairi was able to return home to be among his family.

“At first they told me to go to South Korea for a transplant. I was going to go to a foreign country and away from my family and loved ones. You have no idea how difficult that is. If any complications develop, who or where would I go?” he asks.

The complex surgery involved a wider medical team of more than 30 staff.

Three surgeons and two nurses from Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi travelled to Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Ajman to retrieve the donor liver and other organs before rushing back to Abu Dhabi via air ambulance supplied by the UAE National Transplant Committee to perform the surgery.

Dr Antonio Pinna, transplant surgeon at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, has conducted more than 1,200 liver transplant surgeries.

“This surgery was a tremendous achievement for Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi and the UAE as a whole.

“Liver transplantation is a very complex procedure and the surgery itself is only part of the story – there is a whole team who works on the preparation, management of the operation, transportation of the organ and the long-term treatment of the patient.

“This multidisciplinary approach will provide the foundation for the UAE’s transplant program,” he said.

Dr Shiva Kumar, chief of gastroenterology and hepatology at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, said the milestone was a culmination of more than two years of meticulous planning by the hospital’s liver transplant team.

“We are pleased to report that, after months of deteriorating health, the patient is recovering well and will be back home soon – which would not have been possible without the transplant,” he said.

At the same time, surgeons from Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi also transplanted a kidney from the same donor to another patient at the hospital while a second kidney was transplanted to a patient at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Abu Dhabi.

Other organs were used by surgical teams in Saudi Arabia.