British medical mission helps develop Gaza’s first organ transplant program

A volunteer team of British surgeons helped lead the first organ transplants in the Gaza Strip two weeks ago, according to The Guardian. The surgeries are part of a long-term program designed to train Gaza’s medical staff to perform transplants independently in the very near future.

The transplants took place in Gaza City’s Al-Shifa Hospital, the biggest public hospital in the Gaza Strip and the facility known for its severe overcrowding and scant resources and drugs. Two patients — Ziad Matouk and Mohammed Duhair, both 42 — received new kidneys.

Kidney transplants are crucial therapies in the Gaza Strip where hundreds of people require dialysis multiple times a week. But Gaza’s hospitals lack the specialist equipment necessary to perform the invasive procedures.

This began to change one year ago after an anesthetist at Al-Shifa reached out to Abdelkader Hammad, a doctor from the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, for help concerning Gaza’s difficulty in facing growing demand for dialysis treatment and accessibility.

Hammad and a team of colleagues surveyed Al-Shifa and, last month, brought in specialist equipment to prepare for future transplants. Kidney transplants would give new organs to patients suffering from renal failure to avoid the need for dialysis altogether.

Matouk and Duhair were selected for the first two surgeries which were carried out by the team from the Royal Liverpool hospital. Al-Shifa’s doctors, nurses, and technicians assisted the British surgeons.

Hammad and his team of surgeons plan to return to Al-Shifa in May to carry out more surgeries and to further train Al-Shifa’s hospital staff.

Meanwhile, Gaza’s Ministry of Health is working up plans to send doctors and nurses to the Royal Liverpool hospital for extensive training and shadowing in dedicated transplant centers.

Hammad, who headed the volunteer British team, is originally Palestinian. His family was from Jaffa but became refugees after being evicted by Israel during the Nakba in 1948.

The medical mission was the first time he ever visited Palestine.

For a more comprehensive report, see Harriet Sherwood’s original report: British surgeons carry out first organ transplants in Gaza.

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