Surgeons Perform the UAE’s First Double-Lung Transplant Surgery

Single Deceased Donor Provides Lungs, Kidneys and Liver for Life-Saving Operations in the UAE

Multidisciplinary teams of surgeons at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, part of Mubadala’s network of healthcare providers, have performed three transplant surgeries from a deceased donor on the same day, including the UAE’s first double-lung transplant.

The surgeries at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi – double-lung, liver and kidney – took place on June 10, and a kidney from the same donor was transported for a transplant operation at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City.

Double-lung transplants, also known as bilateral transplants, see both lungs removed and replaced with donor organs.

In performing the first double-lung transplant, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi continues its progress as the UAE’s first and only multi-organ transplant center, working in partnership with other organizations to help improve the health of the community. Earlier in 2018, the hospital performed successful lung and liver transplants, following on from the country’s first full heart transplant in December 2017.

Dr. Redha Souilamas, Chair of Thoracic Surgery at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, led the double-lung transplant, assisted by a multidisciplinary team of 10 specialists, including cardiothoracic surgeons, pulmonologists, anesthesiologists and critical care nurses.

The double-lung transplant patient, a 45-year-old expatriate female, had been suffering from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). A progressive disease that causes extensive scarring of the lungs, there is no cure for IPF and patients are typically given a three- to five-year survival rate after diagnosis without transplant surgery.

“I’m pleased to say that the surgery went smoothly, and the patient is recovering well,” said Dr. Souilamas, who has performed 150 double-lung transplants over the past 10 years. “We were well-prepared for this surgery, which lasted five-and-a-half hours. The patient is breathing on her own and is smiling and talking.”

To complete the operation, the surgical team used an innovative, minimally invasive approach without the need for a cardiopulmonary bypass, making two small incisions on either side of the patient’s chest. This ensures a faster recovery time; shorter hospital stay; and little to no scarring compared with the standard approach.

“The success of this surgery means that Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is now able to offer both single and complex double-lung transplants under its comprehensive multi-organ transplant program. We are proud to provide such a high-level standard of healthcare to all people in the UAE, and to have achieved this milestone in less than three years demonstrates the remarkable progress that Abu Dhabi is making as a healthcare hub,” Dr. Souilamas added.

Dr. Antonio Pinna, Transplant Surgeon in the Digestive Disease Institute, led the team for the liver transplant for a female patient from Ras Al Khaimah, who was suffering from severe cirrhosis. She is recovering well following the operation.

The kidney transplant operation was led by Dr. Bashir Sankari, Chair of the Surgical Subspecialties Institute and head of Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s transplant program, providing vital surgery for another patient on the hospital’s transplant list.

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s transplant program works with a number of key organizations for multi-organ operations, including the Cleveland Clinic Transplant Center in the US, Mubadala, Abu Dhabi Police, the Department of Health, Ministry of Health, National Transplant Committee and a number of other government entities.

“We’re very pleased with the progress that our transplant program has made in terms of preparing and delivering advanced transplant surgeries. These multi-organ transplant surgeries came at a very special time, as we together observed the holy month of Ramadan and particularly to have occurred during the Year of Zayed,” said Dr. Rakesh Suri, CEO, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.

“When we opened our doors in March 2015, we made a promise to bring advanced complex and critical care services to the UAE, removing the need to travel abroad for life-saving medical care. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s latest multi-organ transplants mark another significant moment in that journey,” Dr. Suri added.

“It’s worth reflecting on the incredible contribution that the donor and the donor’s family have made by sharing their precious organs – four lives have been transformed by this selfless gift. We will continue to work with the relevant authorities to support the development of a nationwide transplant list and donor management network, so that more patients will be able to benefit from this life-saving opportunity,” Dr. Suri concluded.

All three patients are recovering well.

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