Mom saves son’s life with kidney donation

By Eudore R. Chand

ABU DHABI 21 August 2020: A kidney donation from a loving mother enabled a student to recover from kidney disease and become well enough to attend his graduation ceremony, according to caregivers at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi – part of Mubadala’s healthcare network.

During his final year in high school, Umair began having headaches and blurred vision. He visited an eye specialist with his mother. However, the examination revealed a much larger problem.

Umair’s eyes showed signs of high blood pressure, with changes to his optic nerve. When tested, it was 180/100, almost twice what it should have been. Further testing revealed that Umair’s high blood pressure had damaged his kidneys, with their function dropping to just 8%.

“Only through his visit for eye treatment was Umair’s extreme blood pressure diagnosed. Once it was discovered, his kidney disease was quite advanced, and we realized very quickly that Umair would need a kidney transplant to fully recover,” says Dr. Nizar Attallah, a transplant nephrologist at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.

Doctors first began medical treatment to try and manage Umair’s blood pressure, hoping it would allow his kidneys to recover. Due to the advanced stage of his disease, Umair began undergoing dialysis three times a week.

“When doctors first told me about Umair’s condition it was devastating, I was in shock. I resolved then and there that I would donate one of my kidneys to Umair, I think it’s something that any mother would do if they are able. We were blessed that I was able to do this, it’s not automatic. I’ve met parents that weren’t so lucky, it really brings home the importance of organ donation,” says Safwa, his mother.

After a detailed evaluation by Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s multidisciplinary transplant team, Safwa was confirmed as a tissue match for Umair and was able to begin the process of donating her kidney. Following the transplant, Umair made a remarkable recovery. He was up and walking in just a couple of days and was discharged after just six days.

“I feel great. Before the surgery I was very lethargic, I wouldn’t want to leave my bed I was sleeping all day, I didn’t eat. Immediately after the surgery, I was feeling much better, much more energetic,” he said.

Umair’s illness meant he was forced to miss a great deal of school and was unable to take his final exams. However, after his recovery from the transplant, he was able to join his friends and walk the stage at his year’s high school graduation, where he delivered one of the speeches. It is a memory he and his family treasure as a marker of his recovery.

“When you get diagnosed with something like this it’s all about mindset. From the beginning I decided this is not going to change anything in me or around me. I’ve started working out at the gym and I’m back to playing basketball. Next up is university,” concludes Umair.

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