Teen’s transplant journey to China ends in tears
ABU DHABI // Alanood breaks into tears when she is asked about her days in China. The girl, just 15, says she cannot remember what happened, and the tears continue.
China is where the UAE national had her first kidney transplant two years ago. Her mother, Umm Alanood, describes it as one of the worst periods in the teenager’s life.
The family, from Ras Al Khaimah, first noticed that something was not right with Alanood when she was two.
“Her Pampers were always dry. I took her to my mother’s and she immediately suspected it was her kidneys and told me to take her to the clinic,” Umm Alanood says.
After a series of referrals, Alanood was sent to Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Abu Dhabi, where she received a diagnosis of nephrotic syndrome – a non-specific kidney disease. When Alanood turned 10, her kidneys failed.
“She used to be bloated like a balloon and her features were not recognisable,” Umm Alanood says. “People in the street used to get scared of her.”
Eventually Alanood went on dialysis three to four times a week.
“Travelling from Ras Al Khaimah to Abu Dhabi was hard for all of us so I asked the doctor if I could do the dialysis at home.”
They agreed, and Alanood was hooked up to the machines every day for 12 hours. She desperately needed a kidney but did not have a donor.
“I wanted to donate my kidney and I’m a match, but my family, my husband especially, were against it,” Umm Alanood says.
Like many, she mistakenly believes that donors suffer more than the patient.
“I have another three kids at home. If I get sick, who will take care of them and if we have an option to do it abroad then why not?”
Two years ago, the family secured funds for a trip to China for a kidney transplant. By this stage Alanood’s condition was critical.
“We stayed a month in China till the hospital called us one morning and told us that the kidney was available.”
After the operation Alanood was kept in intensive care for a week. She was sent home and told to start dialysis immediately to ensure the transplant would work.
“We landed from the plane and went to the hospital. The hospital in China told us that they just do transplants and we have to follow up with Alanood back home.”
The girl stayed at SKMC for six months and was then sent to London for further treatment.
“There, they gave her something like chemotherapy to kill the old cells and for the first time, Alanood was in good health,” her mother says.
But six months ago, the teen’s health began deteriorating and her doctor said she will probably need another transplant.
“We spent the whole of Ramadan in the hospital and [the doctor] tells me that Alanood might need a new kidney within the next five years.
“He said he doesn’t know what happened in China or the condition of the kidney transplanted. He told me that it’s a business in China.”
Despite his warnings, Umm Alanood is still undecided on whether to go abroad or have the transplant done in the UAE.
“Maybe if my husband and family don’t mind, I will definitely donate my kidney this time.”
Updated: November 2, 2014 04:00 AM