Muscat: Oman urgently needs a Renal Society to help support patients waiting for organs and those willing to donate, says Dr. Issa Al Salmi, head of renal services at the Royal Hospital in Oman.
“We are waiting for the Oman society of patients for renal failure, for which talks are on. We do not have a patient society specifically for the kidney disease, and talks for this centre have been on since February 2012, but it needs to come to action.”
Dr. Al Salmi highlighted the example of Saudi Arabia where such a model has shown good results. “The society for kidney disease in Saudi Arabia plays a major role in providing a lot of help to people with kidney diseases and also to those who want to donate, and also to their families.”
“Let’s say a person is willing to donate, but perhaps needs help, or maybe his family needs help. The ministry cannot do all of this, but the society can come together and provide help, both to the recipient and the donor and their families.”
According to Dr. Al Salmi, almost 12 per cent patients died from end-stage kidney disease in Oman. As such patients are mostly from the younger population, a society catering to these is the need of the hour.
“Almost 12 per cent patients who were on dialysis have passed away. We need to keep in mind that our patients on dialysis are very young with their average being about 40 years. When you compare it with the average age in the West, it is too young. In Europe, it’s about 60 years and in Japan, about 60 to 67 years.”
To encourage organ donation, the Ministry of Health had introduced organ donor cards early this year. While a few hundred people did pick up these cards, the future of organ donation in Oman looks better than what we have currently.
Two years ago, in 2014, the Grand Mufti of Oman, His Eminence Sheikh Ahmed bin Hamed Al Khalili, had issued a fatwa, allowing organ transplant after brain death under certain circumstances. This message clarified people’s doubts as some were unsure of organ donation in the past.
According to the fatwa, the necessity of transferring the organs should be established and it should be apparent that the patient cannot be treated further.
Although Dr. Al Salmi agreed that the donor card is a positive step towards creation of awareness about organ donation, he said it was not going to yield any short terms results. “It is mostly the young people who fill up the donor cards.
“We began distributing these cards at the end of last year and did so this year, too. With young and fit people being the card bearers, the donor cards can be a long term policy, not beneficial in the short term.
“Although we do have a good few hundred people who signed up through these donor cards, it’s not something we are looking at for an immediate solution. These are for long term, unless an accident or a disaster happens.”
Over 1,600 patients are waiting for organs in Oman.