The Liver Clinic at Sidra Medicine has transformed the lives of hundreds of young children in Qatar with complex liver diseases, including 40 sent overseas for liver transplantations.
The clinical programme, part of the Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition service at Sidra Medicine, oversees the care and treatment programmes for children with different liver diseases. It also offers support in a unique clinical setting to ensure that paediatric patients in Qatar, who travel abroad for liver transplantations, are given the best pre and post-operative care.
Dr Mamoun Elawad, division chief of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Sidra Medicine said, “We work in tandem with a multidisciplinary team of experts to ensure we provide the most advanced treatment options available to address a full range of pediatric liver diseases. This includes the close involvement of gastroenterologists, anesthesiologists, surgeons, and intensivists, liver transplant coordinators, allied health professionals and social workers.”
Dr Wesam al-Masri, attending physician, part of the Liver Clinic at Sidra Medicine said, “Previously, paediatric patients who received treatment overseas, had to stay back in those countries, sometimes months on end on account of unforeseen complications as well as to maintain regular care and follow-up. At times, an entire family has to uproot themselves in order to accompany their child and stay abroad for months.”
“While we do not conduct liver transplants as yet at Sidra Medicine, by setting up the clinical pre and post-operative service here, we have drastically reduced the need for the patient to travel weeks earlier to prepare for the surgery or to remain abroad for long periods for post-operative care. Our patients travel to well-established liver transplant centres in the UK, the UK, India and Turkey for the actual transplantation surgery,” Dr Masri continued.
Joe, whose parents are Qatar residents, was born in Lebanon with biliary atresia in early 2019. Upon learning about the specialist paediatric care provided by Sidra Medicine in Qatar, Joe’s mother Marie Louise flew back to Qatar when he was five months old. The clinical team worked closely with Joe’s family to monitor his progress, optimise his medical condition and consider different treatment programmes, with a liver transplant being the last possible option.
Once it became evident that Joe would require liver transplant, with his father as the donor, the family were prepared for the procedure clinically and psychologically by an extended team of experts from Sidra Medicine.
Joe’s mother recalled, “When Joe was eight months old, we travelled to India for his transplantation. Despite the fact that this was in March during the early days of the global lockdown of the coronavirus, the steps the Sidra Medicine team took to ensure that Joe’s care was done in a safe manner – is something that we will never forget.”
Prof Ziyad M Hijazi, acting chief medical officer at Sidra Medicine added, “Joe’s case is just one of the many examples of the personalised approach to care that we offer all our patients and their families – whether in Qatar or when they have to travel abroad. We look forward to developing a liver transplant programme for children in Qatar.”
Related Story