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Oman makes major strides in organ transplantation

The Sultanate of Oman has made major strides in organ transplant procedures after the Ministry of Health (MoH) expedited the process for organ transplant procedures in order to streamline the same, according to the Ministry.

The Ministry has been preparing a list of patients with organ failure, mostly kidney and liver who need donors on a priority basis based on their medical condition and the Royal Hospital is also working on increasing the number of transplant procedures in the hospital since last year, according to Dr. Naifain al Kalbani (pictured), Pediatric Nephrologist and Head of Organ transplant at the Royal Hospital.

“We conducted nearly 350 organ transplant procedures in the sultanate since the beginning of the programme in 1988, of which 320 were kidney transplants and 22 liver transplants,” Dr. Naifain said, adding that as many as three hundred kidney transplants were conducted from living related donors and 19 from brain-dead donors. Organ transplantation is undoubtedly one of the most important achievements in the field of modern medicine, as it is the only treatment for organ failure, such as failure of the heart, liver, kidneys, and other organs," Dr. Naifain said.

There are currently approximately 2,300 patients with renal failure on hemodialysis and 200 patients on proton dialysis. Fifty 50 children under the age of 13 are on one of either type of dialysis.

“It is sad to note that these numbers are on the rise mostly due to congenital malformations and genetic diseases among children, and due to lifestyle disorders, such as diabetes, obesity, and blood pressure among adults. In light of this, there has been an increasing disproportion to the availability of organs,” she said.

She further said that it is a lesser-known fact that any living person can safely donate a kidney or lobe of their liver to save lives. However, certain organs, including the heart, pancreas, small intestine and lungs, can only be donated after death.

“Accordingly, a brain-dead donor can save the lives of eight people by donating the heart, kidneys, pancreas, liver, lungs, and small intestine besides tissues, such as corneas and heart valves, and improve the quality of life for more than fifty people. The Omani Association for Organ Transplantation is seeking to support the national efforts aimed at establishing a national programme for organ transplantation, which came within the framework of the Royal blessing,” Dr. Al Kalbani, who is also a member of the National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation added.

The liver transplantation programme began in 2017 at The Royal Hospital whereas the Organ Transplant Department in the hospital was established in 2019 with the first liver transplant being performed in 2021 on in a five-year-old child.

“Currently, the sultanate allows the transplantation of kidneys and liver for adults and children. The Omani executive regulation for organ transplantation restricts donations by living donors to relatives within the fourth degree. The hospital is working in cooperation with the MoH to complete the establishment of an integrated national system for organ donation, according to Dr. Naifain.

Those who wish to take part in the national drive for organ transplant can get themselves registered on the “Shifa” application, which is the first of its kind in the Sultanate and in the Arab world for organ donation.

“The application aims at defining the mechanism for organ donation in the Sultanate of Oman, correcting the misperceptions of post-mortem organ donation, and confirming conditions of relatives’ donation,” adds Dr Naifain.

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