Flying doctors save the day in Gaza

Published February 9th, 2013 - 08:59 GMT
Two patients underwent kidney transplants at Gaza’s largest public hospital.
Two patients underwent kidney transplants at Gaza’s largest public hospital.

A volunteer team of British surgeons from the Royal Liverpool hospital carried out Gaza’s first organ transplant a fortnight ago as part of a long-term plan to train local medical staff to perform the surgery, according to The Guardian newspaper.


Two patients underwent kidney transplants at Gaza’s largest public hospital, The Shifa, which often suffers from power cuts and medical supply shortages.

Ziad Matouk, one of the patients, was born with one kidney and was also diagnosed with renal failure several years ago. He said “I cannot express my happiness, I’m proud to have had one of the first transplant operations in Gaza. I want to hug and kiss all the doctors,’ reported The Guardian.

Matouk’s wife donated one of her kidneys in hope of him returning to his job as a falafel vendor in the Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza. Ziad applied to have the transplant in Cairo, however he was rejected as “unsuitable” and was also unable to afford the private fee.

Abdelkader Hammad a doctor at the Royal Liverpool hospital began plans to go to Gaza for the transplants a year ago when he was contacted by an anesthetist at The Shifa hospital who explained the difficulties they faced with dialysis.

The Shifa is forced to rely on generators due to daily power cuts, the anesthetist further explained that spare parts for ageing dialysis machines have also been difficult to import as well as supplies including blood lines, filters and saline solution.

Israel had large restrictions on imports to Gaza from 2007 to 2010, they continue to control the flow of goods in and out of the Palestinian enclave.
There are approximately 500 patients including 40 children who require dialysis two to three times a week at the hospital.

The two patients who were selected for surgery were Mohammed Duhair and Ziad Matouk, both 42 years of age.

The first to undergo the grueling six hour surgery was Duhair who received a kidney donated by his younger brother. He said he was anxious about the surgery and that he hoped he would be able to have a normal life after being reassured by the British surgeons.

Several days after Duhair’s surgery Ziad Matouk underwent the transplant after his wife had surgery to donate her kidney, she said that it was her “fate and destiny” to give her kidney to her loving husband.

Sobhi Skaik, head of surgery at the Gaza hospital said “we are very satisfied with the results, for the patients, it means that their lives are no longer dependent upon machines. Both the surgeons and the patients’ families are very happy.”

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