BAHRAIN is aiming to perform more than 20 kidney transplants at the country’s main public hospital this year.
Three transplants were successfully completed in January and three more are scheduled for this month, while the rest will be performed in December, Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC) consultant nephrologist Dr Ali Al Aradi said.
Transplants had been halted for the past two years due to Covid-19 pandemic restrictions.
“Every year, we see an increase in dialysis patients and this has been the case during the last decade,” Dr Al Aradi told the GDN.
“We are trying to expedite the transplant programme – we did three in the beginning of January and we are continuing with three more during Ramadan and we aim to complete more than 20 cases this year.
“Transplants were on hold last year and in 2020 amidst the coronavirus (Covid-19) restrictions. In 2018 and 2019, we had seen an increase of 10 to 12 patients per year undergoing the procedure.
“We are still trying to do more transplants and thus reduce the burden on patients.”
Dr Al Aradi stressed the need to popularise transplants being done locally as it will reduce the financial burden on families while also curbing organ trafficking.
He also added that the country was planning to reactivate its organ donor programme to ensure safe transplants.
“There is always a risk (of organ trafficking) when people travel outside for transplant and we are totally against it,” said the senior medic.
“We are trying to use the more legal and evidence-based means of better kidney survival, which is living-related transplants. We are also trying to reactivate the cadaveric transplant programme.”
Cadaveric transplant or multiple organ procurement is a surgical procedure by which organs of a brain dead donor are taken for transplantation. Cadaveric organ donors must be those who have suffered a sudden structural and irreversible damage of the brain or brainstem.
“We had the programme earlier, however, it was shelved for various reasons. Now we are working to revive it,” said Dr Al Aradi.
“We have to co-ordinate between intensive care units, urology department, general medicine and all other teams involved. It (cadaveric transplant programme) is feasible as long as we continue to spread awareness amongst families about cadaveric donation, and the saving of lives and that of their loved ones.”
The medic said there were no reported cases of organ trafficking in Bahrain.
However, he did not rule out the risk as long as people choose to travel abroad for the surgical procedure.
“I think since 2007, after the Istanbul Declaration, organ trafficking has been targeted directly, which has helped,” he said.
“Yet, it happens and we have to fight it by not approving or dealing with these people (facilitators) formally, who actively promote transplant programmes in every country. We can restrict this.”
The 2007 Istanbul Declaration says, “Organ trafficking and transplant tourism violate the principles of equity, justice and respect for human dignity and should be prohibited,” and urges governments to outlaw advertising and other practises that might promote or encourage organ trade.
Health Minister Faeqa Al Saleh had told MPs earlier this year that the country was facing an issue with illegal sale of organs, which it aimed to tackle with new advanced bylaws. She added that the current programme at SMC was being expanded and a new kidney transplant centre was under study.