A team of 10 leading doctors and nurses from South Korea joined surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses and technicians from Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) and spent 20 hours in the operating theatre at Hamad General Hospital late last year as they carried out the country’s first living donor liver transplantation.
First, they completed the partial resection of the donor’s liver, which took some eight hours, and then removed the damaged liver of 58-year-old Zaid and implanted the donated portion of the liver into his body, which took nearly 12 hours. Suffering from liver cirrhosis, Zaid’s donor was his 26-year-old nephew.
The success of the surgery highlights the importance of international collaborations, HMC has said in a statement.
Two months after undergoing the lifesaving liver transplant surgery, Zaid is comfortably recovering at his home in Doha. He says he owes his life to the combined team of surgeons, anaesthetists, and nurses – a team that seamlessly orchestrated two complex surgeries in perfect step, despite living thousands of miles apart and not having worked together before.
“I’m so grateful to all the surgeons, physicians and nurses who participated in my transplant procedure and cared for me. The care I received was excellent,” Zaid said, adding that he looked forward to returning to his normal life in the near future.
While the first living donor liver transplantation in the Arab world was conducted 25 years ago, only a limited number of liver transplants are completed in the Gulf region each year. Till date, HMC has performed 17 transplants, with this most recent being the country’s first living donor liver transplantation.
The team from Korea comprised doctors and nurses from Asan Medical Centre (AMC).
South Korea is a world leader in organ transplantation, carrying out more than 1,200 liver transplants each year. The country has one of the highest liver transplantation success rates in the world.
“In a living donor transplant, both the donor and the recipient undergo surgery simultaneously, with the donor’s surgery beginning a few hours in advance of the recipient’s surgery. The surgeries demand perfect teamwork. Both teams must work together in perfect step, functioning as a cohesive unit,” said professor Hatem Khalaf, clinical lead and senior consultant, HPB Liver Transplant Services with HMC, who led the local transplant team.
“In Korea, we perform a high volume of living donor liver transplants – among the highest in the world. Living liver donation involves two complex surgeries and our skilled surgical team has extensive training and experience in this area. We were pleased to share this expertise with our colleagues in Qatar,” said Dr Sung-Gyu Lee, president and CEO of the Asan Healthcare System, who led the South Korean team.
The November surgery was the culmination of many weeks of planning and dedication, which included a small team from Qatar spending a week in Korea receiving training in living donor liver transplantation and members of the Korean team extending their time in Qatar to assist with monitoring the status of the patients after the transplantation.
The living donor liver transplant surgery was conducted in conjunction with the first Qatar-Korea Medical Forum. Nineteen leading doctors and nurses from South Korea, along with surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses and technicians from HMC, participated in the forum.
The team from HMC and AMC that performed Qatar’s first living donor liver transplantation.