Sultanate sees rise in kidney ailments

MUSCAT, March 13 – More than 1,000 patients with dysfunctional kidneys are living on dialysis, while at least 15 patients are waiting for kidneys to be transplanted at the Royal Hospital. Majority of the patients are receiving blood purification dialysis, while nearly 200 are undergoing peritoneal dialysis at Royal Hospital and other hospitals in Suhar, Ibra, Sinaw, Al Rustaq and Nizwa. There are 24 renal dialysis centres in different governorates of the Sultanate. Nearly 15 to 20 kidney transplants are done in Oman in a year, according to the Department of Urology at the Royal Hospital, which has the largest number of cases.

As we mark World Kidney Day on Thursday, the number of people living with damaged kidneys has jumped manifold and Oman is not any exception to this, according to nephrologists in the country. “Kidney diseases are on the rise, and it has gone up manifold with the spike in number of diabetic cases. At Royal Hospital alone, we get at least one patient every day who needs dialysis,” says Dr Sadiq Abdul Redha al Lawati, Senior Consultant and Head of Department, Nephrology, Royal Hospital.

CKD (Chronic Kidney Disease) or stage 5 is the dialysis stage. In his opinion, almost 30 to 35 per cent of the patients are stage 4 or 3 or 2 chronic disease, whereas 1-2 per cent are in dialysis stage. What makes the scenario even worse is that renal failures happen at the end of the kidney function in most cases, and it must be too late for them to take any corrective action to reverse the situation. Although no visible symptom is found in advance, one should take note of less urine, fatigue, swelling, vitamin D deficiency as symptoms. These subtle symptoms should not be left unattended. In most cases, the patient is able to lead a normal life till the end.

“It does not show any symptom unlike other diseases, and the patients are not able to realise the presence of renal failure. This results in approaching the healthcare facility towards the end of its life. By this time, the kidney must have already damaged,” says Dr Sadiq. Specialists say the reasons are predominantly erratic lifestyle, diabetics and hereditary. The Sultanate has a sound healthcare policy and encourages relative organ donation. However, commercial kidney donation is against the law of the land and in many cases patients travel to other countries for kidney transplant.

“We have a transplant programme at the Royal Hospital, but only living relative donor programme is encouraged. No commercial transplant is allowed here hence they go to some Asian countries for the same.” “Two factors deter kidney transplant in Oman. One, it’s not commercialised and secondly emotional factors as a mother would in most cases, doesn’t want her son or daughter to donate her kidney. A wife often rejects her husband donating his kidney and the like,” adds Dr Al Lawati. “However, this has a flip side”, says another nephro specialist who doesn’t want to be quoted. “Patients complaining of kidney problems have increased by at least 30 per cent in the last four years, and this is predominantly due to lifestyle and diabetics,” says Dr Hemant Hardikar, specialist urologist at a local private hospital.

Mind your lifestyle because changing your life pattern can save you from many lifestyle diseases. Go for periodic blood test, and people should look at the cause of kidney diseases in the first instance. They should check if they are diabetic, having high blood pressure and the like. We need to drink lots of water, avoid painkillers, steroids, while cardiac and liver issues also can result in dysfunction of the kidneys. People above 40 should also get regular check up for creatinine. “Take as much water as possible in sips at regular intervals,” says Mini Padikkal, clinical nutritionist at NMC Oman.