Muscat: “Happiness and tranquillity have returned to our home after I successfully helped end my father’s pain.”
These were the words of Khadija Al Barwaniyah, a 22-year-old Omani student, who had a fear of needles but donated 80 per cent part of her liver to her father successfully, in an operation that was performed only the second time in the Sultanate.
Read here/ Oman's second liver transplant: Daughter donates to save dad
This is the third liver transplant surgery in the family. The first two were performed abroad, but it is perhaps a measure of how far Omani medicine has come that the third surgery was undertaken on home soil.
“Now, the process is available in the Sultanate. Having your loving family nearby gives the patient psychological support,” noted Khadija.
Hafsa Barwaniyah, Khadija’s sister, stated, “In the family, this was the third liver transplant surgery, two of which were performed for our relatives abroad, and coincidentally, the same doctor performed all the operations.”
“All my brothers were hoping to be the donor for my father,” Hafsa told Times of Oman.
Mohammed Al Barwani, 56, has seven children, and after careful tests they found that Khadija was best suited to donate.
“It took us a month to do the tests to find the best donor for my father and perform the procedure. Before performing the operation, the doctors conducted several medical tests on my sister and two of my brothers, the most important of which was to match the blood type of the donor and the recipient, determine the size of the donor liver and make sure it is in a good condition,” explained Hafsa.
Khadija had a phobia of needles, but that did not prevent her from going ahead with the operation to save her father’s life.
“When they told me that I would be the donor, I was happy and at the same time, a bit worried because I was afraid of needles. I always wanted to donate blood, but because of my fear of needles, I could not, but when I saw my father, I became more courageous,” remarked Khadija.
“My father’s first reaction , when he knew it would be me, was ‘are you sure you want to donate the liver? You are still young...’, but with the help of the doctors, we persuaded my father to allow me to donate the liver and proceed with the operation,” recalled Khadija.
“Before the operation, we were afraid and sometimes tense, but Khadija would reassure us. She would tell us it is okay, and that we should not be afraid. She was optimistic and she gave us courage and strength,” mentioned Hafsa.
“My father is in quarantine at home for six months. He cannot be exposed to dust or shake hands with people. We have to change the bedding daily. Initially, it was difficult, but now we have got used to it, and it is easier, especially with the support of our parents, as well as the constant visits and continuous communication with the doctor; we have become one family,” reiterated Hafsa.
“My father’s condition is improving, and he is now allowed to eat food normally,” she added.
Talking about the ordeal at the hospital, Khadija stressed, “When we were waiting in the hospital, we saw many patients suffering from the same condition, but they needed a donor. We need more awareness in the community about organ donation. The process is very simple and does not harm the donor.”
Dr Ahmed Mohammed Al Saidi, Health Minister, observed, “Globally, there is an organ donation programme from people who die. In the Sultanate, it is not prohibited religiously, but we lack awareness , so we need more campaigns and need to train cadres to do this surgery.”
“About a month and a half ago, the first successful liver transplant was performed at the Royal Hospital in Oman. The operation was carried out jointly by a specialised hospital in India and the Royal Hospital. In November, the second liver transplant was performed.
“Now, we are seeking to offer treatment within the Sultanate instead of travelling abroad, which will benefit us by reducing the financial cost and reduce the cases of those travelling abroad for treatment.
Waiting for donation
“Oman has over 1,600 patients who are waiting for a kidney, and with very little culture of organ donation in the country, getting one in the short term seems to be a dream for most patients,” he maintained.