Nature Middle East | House of Wisdom

Volunteer UK doctors carry out first organ transplant in Gaza

In Gaza City’s notoriously overcrowded and undersupplied Al-Shifa hospital, some 500 patients, including 40 children, require dialysis two to three times a week within its confines.

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No organ transplants are possible. According to The Guardian, however, a volunteer team of British surgeons carried out Gaza’s first kidney transplant last month – an initial step in a long-term programme designed to train Gaza’s medical staff to perform transplants independently.

Two patients aged 42 – Ziad Matouk and Mohammed Duhair – received new kidneys.

Matouk and his wife, who donated her kidney to him, had hoped to carry out the operation in Cairo but were rejected as unsuitable and could not afford a private hospital.

Ultimately, about 10% of travel permits from Gaza to Israel or the West Bank for medical reasons are denied by Israeli authorities, and others face delays that force them to miss appointments, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Gisha, an Israeli organization promoting the right of freedom of movement in Gaza.

Abdelkader Hammad, a doctor from the Royal Liverpool University Hospital who also led the team of surgeons to Gaza, agreed to the programme after finding out about the hospital’s ageing dialysis machines and the difficulty it’s facing in importing spare parts.

“There are quite severe shortages of drugs and consumables particularly in the past six months [arising] from financial problems faced by the Palestinian Authority, which supplies drugs to Gaza and the West Bank,” says Anthony Laurance, a WHO representative in the occupied Palestinian territory.

The hospital itself runs on generators due to daily power cuts.

Hammad and his three colleagues made their way into Gaza via Egypt in January after an initial exploratory trip last April.

The team of surgeons plan to return to Gaza in May to carry out more transplants and further train the hospital’s staff.

Hammad – whose family is Palestinian – is from Jaffa. His family became refugees after being evicted by Israel in 1948.

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