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Collaboration leads to transplant hope for kidney patients in Palestine

Until recently, there were no transplant services available in Gaza. About 500 adult patients and 20 children were on chronic hemodialysis and only those who could afford to travel away could benefit from this treatment.

Change is on the horizon now thanks to the ISN-TTS Sister Transplant Center Program. A partnership between the Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza, Palestine and the Royal Liverpool University Hospital in the UK led to the first kidney transplant in the region in January 2013 – giving the Liverpool team the credibility to influence decision makers regarding transplantation in Gaza.

Three kidney transplants were carried out, including one on a child. This has increased the total to eight transplants, three of them being pediatric. Abdul Hammad from the supporting center in the UK explains that a plasma exchange technician also helped train staff: “We started a Renal IT system, and hopefully once these are installed in every nephrology center in Gaza we can start a Renal Registry, a national transplant waiting list for kidney transplantation.”

“The Clinical Director at the Liverpool Transplant Unit has already initiated direct engagement with the Gaza Ministry of Health, Critical Care Speciality, and Members of the Legislative Council, to build the framework for organ donation,” say ISN-TTS Sister Transplant Center Program Chairs Paul Harden and Jeremy Chapman.

Previously there were high rates of mortality for dialysis patients in Gaza, especially during the war. “These patients may receive what is in many westernized countries a ‘life enhancing operation’, but in Gaza it will undoubtedly be a ‘life-saving operation,“ says Hammad.

The ISN-TTS Sister Transplant Center Program is a recent joint partnership between ISN and The Transplantation Society (TTS) to create new kidney transplant centers and develop existing kidney transplant programs in emerging countries. Following the success of the ISN Sister Renal Center Program, this initiative encourages transplant centers to increase opportunities for kidney transplant patients in developing countries. CLICK HERE for more information.

Photos are courtesy of Craig Stennett. This article appears in the February 2014 edition of ISN News, CLICK HERE.

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