Press Releases

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi Celebrates Transplant Successes in the Year of Tolerance

Hospital Completed 35 Transplant Surgeries by the End of 2018, with Six Operations in Six Days in October; Remarkable Progress since First Heart Transplant in December 2017


Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, part of Mubadala’s network of healthcare providers, has held a celebratory event for patients and senior community representatives, to mark the milestone of 35 transplant surgeries by the end of 2018 as part of celebrations for the UAE’s Year of Tolerance.

His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Cabinet Member, Minister of Tolerance, took part in the ceremony and congratulated transplant patients on their health and recovery, and the hospital for their significant achievement.

The event also highlighted the community acceptance and support for organ donation as a reflection of the UAE’s spirit of tolerance. Hundreds of people – from all backgrounds and walks of life – have expressed interest in donating their organs after death to give others the gift of life.

His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan said: “It is a celebration marked by paradox. While we celebrate the continuation of life made possible by the generosity of donors, we also mourn the loss of those donors who have passed from this life.”

His Excellency continued: “I must save praise for the phenomenal transplant teams fielded by the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. One can only marvel at their ability to exercise their extraordinary skills under the intense pressure inherent in transplant operations.”

“Praising their work is particularly appropriate in this Year of Tolerance. They are exemplars of the tolerance that characterizes medical professionals. We are all their patients, irrespective of our nationality, ethnicity, gender, religion, philosophical or political beliefs, economic status, age, or culture,” His Excellency added.

Since conducting its first kidney transplant and the UAE’s first multi-organ deceased donor transplant in 2017, the hospital has rapidly expanded its multi-organ transplant capacities. The hospital has now conducted heart, lung and double-lung, deceased liver and living liver, deceased kidney and living kidney transplants, as part of its efforts to provide life-saving surgery for patients in Abu Dhabi and the wider region.

By the end of 2018, the hospital had conducted three heart, three lung, 10 liver and 19 kidney transplants, a significant achievement for a hospital that opened its doors in 2015. It has continued to perform transplant operations in 2019.

Six transplant operations were performed in six days in October 2018, setting a new milestone for the transplant facility. The hospital conducted a heart and liver transplant from a deceased donor, whose remaining organs were shared with other hospitals to save other lives.

In that same week, teams at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi completed three living related liver transplants and a living related kidney transplant. Living related transplants occur when a family member donates an organ or part of an organ for transplantation to the patient.

“It is delightful to see how far the nation has come in the deliverance of renowned healthcare treatments and procedures and ensuring all the communities needs are readily available,” said Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Hamed, Chairman of the Department of Health. “We are working to raise awareness on organ donation and how vital it is to save lives and improve the quality of healthcare provided.”

Waleed Al Mokarrab Al Muhairi, Chairman of Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi and Deputy Group Chief Executive Officer and Chief Executive Officer of Alternative Investments, Mubadala, said: “The remarkable early impact of the UAE’s transplant program underlines the importance of building partnerships to tackle the key healthcare challenges of our age. We all share a vision to create a world-class network of facilities for the people of the UAE, and the transformative role played by the introduction of transplant services shows what can be achieved when we work together.”

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi worked closely with several entities, regulators and hospitals to establish its complex multi-organ transplant program. The integration across all organizations was key to ensuring smooth exchange of knowledge, operation opportunities and support, which facilitated the development of a strong foundation for the national transplant program.

Dr. Ali Abdulkarim Al Obeidli, Chair of the UAE’s National Organ Transplant Committee, said: “The UAE has made significant progress in terms of supporting a growing number of transplant operations that have changed the lives of people across the UAE. We are establishing a system that will support the public to exercise their right to donate and save lives. We are also putting in place the appropriate framework to support transplant patients before, during and after surgery. We thank all stakeholders for working together for this great and noble cause.”

“I would like to thank all the caregivers who took part in these complex operations, which involve a significant number of professionals working at the absolute peak of their abilities and their commitment,” said Dr. Rakesh Suri, Chief Executive Officer, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. “As a diverse organization with caregivers from different nations and cultures, it was remarkable to see the team’s tolerance, cohesion, respect and acceptance of one another reflect that of the UAE to exceptional results in the lives of our patients.”

“It is an extraordinary accomplishment for an academic medical center to have performed such a high volume of operations so quickly after opening, and this achievement is only possible because of our caregivers’ hard work. I would also like to recognize the enormous contribution of donors, and particularly the families of deceased donors. In their worst moments, they gave the gift of life, so that others could live,” he added.

For Sultan Al Muhairi, who experienced advanced heart failure and was the recipient of a deceased donor heart in October, his transplant operation was literally life-saving.

“I’d like to pay gratitude to the generous leaders of the nation, who persevered to establish a trusting network of healthcare providers like Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi and made it possible for me to continue experiencing life,” said Sultan Al Muhairi.

“The community has responded positively and supported transplant services since they became available in the UAE, and we have seen a number of people step forward and express their willingness to become donors. We fully support the UAE authorities on their mission towards implementing a national donor register and raising awareness on organ donation,” said Dr. Bashir Sankari, Chair, Surgical Subspecialties Institute and the head of Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s transplant program.

Following the UAE government decree in 2017 allowing deceased donor transplants, organ transplant programs continue to grow across the country with the number of living related transplants increasing as well as the number of deceased donors.

These achievements bring the UAE closer to achieving a world-class healthcare system that adheres to international quality standards of medical offerings and keeps the provision of healthcare close to home, reducing the need to travel abroad for medical services.