x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

National organ transplant system 'still a year away'

A year after organ transplants from deceased donors became legal, a functioning transplant system is still another year away, doctors say.

ABU DHABI // A year after organ transplants from a deceased donor became legal, a functioning transplant system may still be another year away, doctors said yesterday.

Dr Mohammed al Zaabi, a liver transplant specialist at Zayed Military Hospital in the capital who also serves on the National Organ Transplant Committee, said that despite hurdles the country was on the right track.

"We hope that in a year this will pass as a federal law," he said.

That cannot come too soon for patients such as Rhoniel Romano, 39, who has been living with kidney failure for seven years. In February doctors diagnosed end-stage renal failure.

He needs a kidney transplant but there is no donor registry that would identify a matching kidney from anyone other than a family member or close friend. Mr Romano, a Filipino, has no family members in the UAE.

"Patients such as Mr Romano will hopefully no longer have to suffer or feel so desperate, because we will have established a centre for organ transplants, put forth the legislation required, set up a donor and organ registry, defined how to harvest organs and so on," Dr al Zaabi said.

hkhalaf@thenational.ae