Indian-origin doctor performs UAE’s first living donor pediatric liver transplant

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Dubai, Jul 10 (PTI) An Indian-origin doctor has performed a groundbreaking medical procedure on a four-year-old Indian girl, the first pediatric liver transplant in the UAE.

This was also the first living donor pediatric liver transplant in the country. The milestone surgery was carried out by a team of doctors led by Dr Rehan Saif at the Burjeel Medical City (BMC).

The patient, Razia Khan born in Abu Dhabi, was diagnosed with a rare, genetic liver condition called Progressive Familial Intrahepatic Cholestasis type 3 (PFIC).

Razia’s family was all too familiar with the devastating effects of PFIC, having lost their first daughter to the same condition three years ago in India.

Razia was given medication and advised routine check-ups till she was old enough for a liver transplant. In the last few years, Razia’s condition prevented her from attending nursery and achieving growth milestones appropriate for her age.

“Having lost one daughter to the same condition, every day was filled with fear. I wasn’t sure what would happen. Every day I was afraid of losing her,” said Razia’s father, Imran Khan, who is from India and has been a UAE resident for 14 years and works as a trading coordinator.

Three months ago, a routine check-up revealed that Razia’s spleen and liver had enlarged. Doctors recommended that it was time to consider a transplant.

“Razia’s condition is caused due to a genetic mutation, which leads to an abnormality in the formation and secretion of bile components and bile acids, ultimately leading to damage to the liver. It presents in infancy and early childhood as signs of growth failure and complications of liver failure,” said Dr Saif, Director of Transplant Surgery for Burjeel Abdominal Multi-Organ Transplant Program, Clinical Lead HPB Surgery, Consultant General Surgery.

Dr. Saif has his roots in Bangalore. He migrated to the UK and now has a UK passport. According to him, the only definitive and curative treatment for these children is liver transplantation.

After extensive evaluations, the doctors recommended that a liver transplant was necessary to save Razia’s life and her father volunteered to be the donor.

The transplant team at BMC, led by Dr. Saif successfully performed simultaneous donor and recipient surgeries, which lasted 10 hours.

“This is a monumental achievement for the UAE’s medical community. It ensures that children like Razia can receive life-saving treatments without the need to travel abroad. We are proud to have reached this milestone and look forward to helping more families in the future,” said Dr. Saif.

Razia has made an excellent recovery from her life-saving liver transplant and will be on regular follow-up. Her physical and intellectual development will return to normalcy with an improved quality of life. She will be able to start school and enjoy her childhood like any other child her age, he said. PTI CORR AMS AKJ AMS

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