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April 11, 2021

Pakistan’s first liver auto-transplant performed successfully at DUHS

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April 11, 2021

KARACHI: Pakistan’s first liver autotransplant has been performed successfully on a 28-year-old cancer patient at the Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) in Karachi, and the patient has almost recovered.

DUHS Vice Chancellor Prof Saeed Quraishy said on Saturday that their team of liver transplant surgeons have performed one of the most complex and sophisticated procedures, known as liver autotransplant.

“In this procedure, the diseased liver is removed from the body, the cancer is surgically removed, the damaged veins are reconstructed or artificial veins are inserted, and the liver is reimplanted.”

Prof Quraishy was speaking at a seminar that was titled ‘Meet the Experts: Liver, Kidney & Bone Marrow Transplants at Dow University Hospital’ and organised by the Mir Khalil-ur-Rehman Memorial Society (MKRMS) at the Ojha campus of the DUHS. He said that a 28-year-old patient from the Zhob district of Balochistan had reported at the DUHS with liver cancer, which had damaged part of his liver and some important veins.

“Under the supervision of eminent liver transplant surgeon Prof Dr Faisal Dar, our team of experts, including Dr Jahanzeb Hyder and Dr Muhammad Iqbal, performed the country’s first liver autotransplant. Only around 20 such procedures have been performed so far in the entire world.”

He pointed out that regular liver transplants are being carried out despite the Covid-19 pandemic, with so far six of them being successfully carried out at the DUHS. He said that three more liver transplants will be carried out in the next few days.

“Now the liver transplant programme is fully functional at the Dow University, and our own surgeons, under the supervision of Dr Faisal Dar, are regularly performing liver transplants at the DUHS. We’re planning to perform three to four liver transplants every month at the Ojha campus, where state-of-the-art facilities have been arranged.”

Dr Jahanzeb Hyder, liver transplant surgeon at the DUHS, said that Pakistan annually needs hundreds of liver transplants because of liver cancers and damage due to hepatitis B and C.

He said that liver is the only organ in the human body that can regenerate itself, so people can donate parts of their livers to others for saving their lives.

“In a liver transplant, the unhealthy part of a patient is surgically removed and the healthy portion of a liver from a donor is implanted. Following the surgery, both the donor and the recipient can live a healthy life.”

Dr Hyder pointed out that in addition to undergoing a sophisticated procedure, transplant patients also need extraordinary post-operative care to live a normal, healthy life.

Bone marrow transplant surgeon Dr Farrukh Ali Khan said that bone marrow transplant is performed to treat patients afflicted with various types of blood cancers and genetic blood disorders, including thalassaemia and haemophilia, adding that in most cases, bone marrow of siblings or parents is used for transplants.

“Bone marrow is also a part of the body that can grow again, so there’s no harm in donating it for a patient’s treatment. There are now techniques where medicines are used to increase bone marrow in patients with low marrow,” he said, adding that sophisticated bone marrow transplants are now being performed at the DUHS.

Prof Rashid bin Hamid, kidney transplant surgeon at the DUHS said that 20,000 to 25,000 patients in Pakistan require kidney transplants, as end-stage renal disease is on the rise. However, he added, only 1,000 to 1,200 patients have the opportunity to get renal transplants, while the remaining have to rely on dialysis for their entire lives.

He said that at the DUHS, they have the country’s most advanced renal transplant programme, in which dozens of these procedures are being performed on a monthly basis.

Nephrologist Dr Tasaduk Khan said that chronic kidney disease is on the rise in the country due to endemic diabetes and hypertension, as well as poor lifestyles, adding that there are now over 60 million patients of kidney diseases, of whom 50 per cent require dialysis.

Other experts, including Prof SM Zahid Azam, Dow University Hospital medical superintendent, and professor and head of department at the National Institute of Liver & GI Diseases, as well as Wasif Nagi of the MKRMS, also spoke on the occasion.