PESHAWAR: Institute of Kidney Diseases is restarting renal transplant that was stopped after retirement of a lead transplant surgeon in 2020.

“We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Prof Saeed Akhtar, head of transplant unit at PAF Hospital Islamabad, to re-launch renal transplantation at the institute,” IKD director Prof Mazhar Khan told Dawn. He said that the first transplant was likely to be conducted in mid-May as six patients were waiting to undergo the procedure.

He appreciated the Board of Governors (BoG) of the institute for its leadership role and approval of a grant to ensure the smooth-sailing of the renal transplants in future. He added that BoG Chairman Sahibzada Mohammad Saeed was in touch with the government to ensure early release of the grant so that preparations could be started as per plan.

Prof Saeed Akhtar, the founder and former chief executive officer of Pakistan Liver and Kidney Institute, Lahore, would arrive at IKD along with his team to perform transplants along with the local surgeon.

Procedure was stopped at the institute following retirement of Prof Asif Malik

Prof Mazhar said that it would enable the local surgeons to be able to carry out the procedure independently in future. He added that last month, Prof Saeed Akhtar visited IKD and pinpointed the deficiencies, which needed to be overcome before starting the transplants.

Dr Fazal Manan, the renal transplant coordinator, told Dawn that they were in the process to get funds to install CT scan machines and other equipment, establish renal transplant ward and intensive care unit to ensure that the patients got services comparable to international standards. “We are also putting in place state-of-the-art pathology and radiology services in addition to strengthening logistics to cope with the post-transplant complications,” he added.

He said that 15 medics of IKD including transplant surgeons, nephrologists, anaesthetists, nurse and operation theatre technician completed two-week training under Prof Saeed Akhtar in Islamabad from February 28 to March 12. “During the course of training, we witnessed renal transplants and subsequent management of the patients,” he added.

He said that under an agreement, experts from Shifa International Hospital Islamabad would arrive at IKD for tissue-typing and cross-matching of patients at low rates prior to transplants. “Meanwhile, we would continue to get same facilities here in near future,” he added.

Dr Fazal Manan said that presently kidney transplants were covered under Sehat Card Plus but they required funds to ensure that the patients got subsequent treatment uninterrupted. “In case of issues with Sehat Card Plus, we would be able to carry out transplants even from our funds,” he added.

Officials at health secretariat said that health department established Medical Transplantation Regulatory Authority (MTRA) in February 2018 and the public sector IKD became the first institute in the province to begin transplanting kidneys to patients. The initiative was meant to control illegal renal transplants, register and equip hospitals for lawful transplants and train doctors to begin procedures in regional hospitals of the province.

Initially, there would be a couple of transplants every month, the number of which would be increased when the surgeons start conducting the procedures independently along with the availability of other facilities.

Prof Asif Malik, then transplant surgeon at IKD, had been appointed the first administrator of MTRA. He also began transplants at the institute free of cost. He conducted more than 300 transplants and 40 others were on waiting list but he retired.

However, not a single renal transplant has been carried out at IKD since the retirement of Prof Asif Malik in September 2020. The government has already included cashless transplants in Sehat Card Plus under which more than 65 patients have undergone surgeries in Rehman Medical Institute by a team led by Prof Taqi Toufeeq Khan.

Published in Dawn, April 15th, 2022

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