UAE: Father Saves Daughter's Life In Nation's First Paediatric Liver Transplant


(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) Published: Wed 10 Jul 2024, 10:36 AM

Last updated: Wed 10 Jul 2024, 10:45 AM

Indian expat Imran Khan was ready to do anything for her four-year-old child who was suffering from a rare genetic condition. He donated a portion of his liver: a gift that would give his daughter Razia a normal childhood.

A 12-hour surgery - considered the UAE's first living-donor paediatric liver transplant - was performed at Burjeel Medical City (BMC), Abu Dhabi, saving the life of Razia.


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The child was diagnosed with a rare genetic liver condition called progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis type 3 (PFIC). Imran and his wife were familiar with the devastating effects of PFIC - having lost their first daughter to the same condition three years ago.


“We had suffered the heartbreak of losing our first girl at our native place of Hyderabad. We didn't want to lose another. We were anxious but careful, too, and discovered the condition early,” Imran, a UAE resident for 14 years and father to 3 boys and a girl, told Khaleej Times.

Early signs

Razia, born in Abu Dhabi, started exhibiting symptoms like yellow eyes, gum bleeding, and extreme tiredness when she was just three months old. The parents immediately consulted doctors.

“Getting a transplant was the best available option. So, we were planning to do the transplant in India but lately came to know it is possible here in the UAE. BMC is near our home and offers an airlift service in case of an emergency,” said Imran, who lives in Abu Dhabi's Mohamed Bin Zayed City.

Razia was given medication and advised regular check-ups till she was old enough for a liver transplant.

Three months ago, a check-up revealed that Razia's spleen and liver had enlarged, so doctors said it was time to consider a transplant.

Dr Rehan Saif, director of transplant surgery for Burjeel abdominal multi-organ transplant programme, said Razia's condition was caused by a genetic mutation, which leads to an abnormality in the formation and secretion of bile components and bile acids leading to damage to the liver.

“It presents in infancy and early childhood as signs of growth failure and complications of liver failure. The only definitive and curative treatment for these children is liver transplantation,” said Dr Rehan, the clinical lead for the hepato-pancreato-biliary surgery and general surgery consultant.

A life-saving gift

Imran said that as a father and a husband, becoming a donor was an easy decision to make.

“We didn't want to lose our daughter. Also, I wanted to keep my wife safe. She is a mother to other children, too. It was an automatic decision. The evaluation tests showed me as a match," he said.

The donor operation and the transplant were performed simultaneously by a team of experts in surgeries lasting 12 hours, Dr Rehan said.

“This is the first paediatric liver transplant done in the UAE. In the past, children needing such a transplant had to travel abroad, but now it is available here in the country. It's a proud moment for all of us.”

The transplant team, led by Dr Rehan, included Dr Johns Mathew, abdominal transplant and hepato-pancreato-biliary surgeon; Dr Gourab Sen, general surgery consultant; Dr Ramamurthy Baskaran, anaesthesiology and transplant anaesthesia consultant; Dr Kesava Ramakrishnan, paediatric intensive care unit consultant; and Dr Shyam Mohan, paediatric radiologist.

“Both of them made an excellent recovery, and the child has been discharged two weeks ago. We expect her to have a normal childhood,” Dr Rehan said.

Ready for school

Before the transplant, Razia's condition prevented her from attending nursery and achieving growth milestones appropriate for her age. Now, the parents and the young fighter are preparing for the new school year.

“She has battled a lot of hardships. We are proud of her. She knows that I have donated my liver to her. I have explained to her what and why she has gone through such a situation,” Imran said.

Razia is recovering well and has started playing with her siblings.“She is better. She walks, plays, and is happy. I am thankful to everyone. This surgery has come as a huge relief. We are proud of being part of the UAE's history,” Imran said.

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