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Saudi Journal of Kidney Diseases and Transplantation
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Year : 2010  |  Volume : 21  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 359-362
Kidney transplantation in Erbil, Iraq: A single-center experience

Hawler Medical University, Erbil, Iraq

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Date of Web Publication9-Mar-2010


Kidney transplantation is associated with improved quality of life and better survival among patients with end-stage renal disease. The aim of this study is to assess the experience of kidney transplant program in a single center in Erbil, Iraq. The records of 83 pairs, donors and reci­pients, treated with kidney transplantation at the Zheen Hospital in Erbil, over a two-year period were collected and analyzed. The mean donor age was 28.5 ± 7.34 years (range 19-49 years) and re­cipient age was 37.6 ± 14.9 years (range 12-66 years). The male to female ratio was 6.5:1 among donors and 3.2:1 among recipients. Among the 83 pairs studied, the donors and recipients were genetically related in seven cases (8.5%) and emotionally related in one case (1.2%). Delayed graft function was seen in 3.2% of cases and acute rejection in 5.3% of cases. Graft survival at six months was 88% while patient survival at the same period was 90%. In conclusion, even though experience related to kidney transplantation in Erbil is limited, the reported results are encouraging for a promising future.

How to cite this article:
Al-Bazzaz PH. Kidney transplantation in Erbil, Iraq: A single-center experience. Saudi J Kidney Dis Transpl 2010;21:359-62

How to cite this URL:
Al-Bazzaz PH. Kidney transplantation in Erbil, Iraq: A single-center experience. Saudi J Kidney Dis Transpl [serial online] 2010 [cited 2023 Feb 9];21:359-62. Available from: https://www.sjkdt.org/text.asp?2010/21/2/359/60215

   Introduction Top

Renal transplantation is the treatment of choice for most patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD). It improves the quality of life and in­creases survival rates. Also, it is more cost­effective, especially when compared with hemo­dialysis, the conventional treatment modality for ESRD. Current advances in renal transplan­tation have resulted in better graft and patient survival, and the improved quality of life has made renal transplantation a favored option for patients with ESRD. [1],[2]

Shortage of organs is an important problem in kidney transplantation. In order to overcome this problem, many countries have initiated living unrelated donor programs through donation from emotionally related persons, friends, and other volunteers. [1],[2]

Iraq was one of the first Arab countries to start kidney transplantation. However, the long years of wars and embargo had tremendous effect on the transplantation activities in Iraq. Before the war in 2003, there were four transplantation cen­ters in Baghdad. However, only two of these are now operating, although irregularly, due to the poor security situation. Transplantation acti­vity has been restored in Erbil since December 26, 2006 providing treatment for patients from all over Iraq. [3],[4] The aim of this study is to conduct an initial assessment and report the experience of the kidney transplant program in a single center in the Erbil governorate in Iraq.

   Patients and Methods Top

The records of 83 pairs, donors and recipients, treated with kidney transplantation at the Zheen Hospital in Erbil, Iraq between November 26, 2006 and September 25, 2008 were collected and analyzed. Data collected included age, gen­der, medical history, treatment outcome and complications of the study sample.

   Results Top

The mean age ± SD of the donors was 28.5 ± 7.34 years (range 19-49 years). The age distri­bution of the donors showed the highest fre­quency in the age-groups 21-25 and 26-30 years, 25.3% in each group. The mean age ± SD of re­cipients was 37.6 ± 14.9 (range 12-66 years). There was no major difference in the distribu­tion of recipients in the different age-groups [Table 1].

The majority of donors were male (86.8%) with a male to female ratio of 6.5:1. Similarly, majority of the recipients were male (75.9%) with a male to female ratio of 3.2:1. [Table 2] shows the gender difference in the donors as well as the recipients.

Most of the donors (96.4%) were from outside the Iraqi Kurdistan region, distributed among different governorates of Iraq. Among the reci­pients, 45.8% were from Kurdistan and 54.2% were from other parts of Iraq [Table 3].

The highest proportion of both donors and re­cipients were of blood group O+, 48.2% and 43.4%, respectively. This was followed in fre­quency by blood group B+ and A+ [Table 4]. Among the 83 pairs studied, the donors and re­cipients were genetically related in seven cases (8.5%) and emotionally related in one case (1.2%).

The main cause of ESRD was glomeruloneph­ritis with hypertension, seen in 63% of cases. The mean duration of hospital stay for recipients was 7.6 ± 1.44 days (range 4-12 days). Among the recipients, 94% had left to right kidney transplant while 4% had right to left kidney transplant.

Six of the donors tested positive for cytome­galovirus infection and two were positive for toxoplasmosis. On the other hand, five recipients tested positive for cytomegalovirus infection and two were positive for toxoplasmosis.

The immunosuppression regimen followed was methylprednisolone, mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) and cyclosporine while the maintenance therapy comprised of cyclosporine and MMF. Delayed graft function was seen in 3.2% of cases and acute rejection in 5.3% of cases. Graft survival at six months was 88% while patient survival at six months was 90%.

   Discussion Top

The kidney transplant program in Erbil is a re­latively new experience that has been established through the hard work and enthusiasm of local experience utilizing the limited existing resour­ces and support. However, this experience pro­vided the opportunity for many patients from all parts of Iraq to seek treatment at this center. In earlier days, Iraqi patients who needed kidney transplantation had to travel abroad to seek such treatment with the associated difficulties they had to face, whether financial or those related to travel, visa acquisition, etc.

During the two years of experience in Erbil, the general attitude towards kidney transplanta­tion has seen a considerable change with more families willingly coming forward for organ donation. There has been a steady increase in the number of patients and a further steady in­crease is expected over the following years.

The study revealed a higher proportion of male patients seeking transplantation treatment than female patients. The proportion of male donors to female donors is very high. These differences are probably related to the prevailing socio-cul­tural factors in the region. However, with time and more experience, these differences may dis­appear.

The availability of donors remains a real cha­llenge in transplantation. While a genetically sui­table donor might not be available in most ins­tances, there is always the opportunity to receive a kidney from an unrelated donor like emotio­nally related or other strongly motivated donors. It should be kept in mind that the special situa­tion prevailing in Iraq might encourage emer­gence of commercial donors and therefore, appropriate measures should be taken to pre­vent commercialization of kidney donation. [1],[3] At this stage, there is an urgent need to develop laws and guidelines by the Government and the local professional associations to prevent emer­gence of wrongful practices. The success of trans­plantation as a life-saving treatment should not victimize the poor as the source of organs for the rich. [5]

The results in this study in terms of incidence of delayed graft function of 3.2%, acute rejec­tion of 5.3% and graft survival of 88% are com­parable to studies from other countries. [2],[4],[6]

Introduction of cyclosporine has revolutionized the practice of solid organ transplantation. Cy­closporine-based regime was used in our trans­plant patients, since it is associated with im­proving both early and long-term graft survival and having long-term benefits for the patients. [7]

The long-term renal consequences of kidney donation by a living donor are attracting increa­sed, but appropriate, interest. A number of stu­dies have suggested that living kidney donors have similar survival rates to that of non-donors and that their risk of ESRD is not increased. Most donors preserve glomerular filtration rate, normal albumin excretion, and an excellent qua­lity of life. [8] However, other studies have obser­ved that the quality of life of donors may be low and they may be at risk of experiencing more stressful life events. Therefore, health care administration should continue after donation and compensate for mental health and psycho­social problems as well. [9]

Cytomegalovirus is considered the most im­portant infectious cause of mortality and morbi­dity in organ transplant recipients. A recipient who is negative for the anti-cytomegalovirus IgG antibody and receives an allograft from a positive donor, has greater chance of develo­ping cytomegalovirus disease and poorer pa­tient survival. As several cases of cytomegalo­virus-positive cases were found among the do­nors and the recipients, close monitoring of cy­tomegalovirus-positive patients and the use of less-intensive immunosuppressive treatments are recommended. [10]

The lack of resources, especially those of sen­sitive methods to detect preformed antibodies in the recipient serum and the lack of HLA-mat­ching, may be attributed to difficulty in predic­ting rejection episodes. [4]

   Conclusion Top

Even though kidney transplantation experience in Erbil is in its early phase and facing many challenges, the reported results are so far en­couraging for a promising future.

   References Top

1.Al-Wakeel J, Mitwali AH, Tarif N, et al. Living unrelated transplant: outcome and issues. Saudi J Kidney Dis Transpl 2000;11(4):553-8.  Back to cited text no. 1      
2.Einollahi B. Iranian experience with the non­related renal transplantation. Saudi J Kidney Dis Transpl 2004;15(4):421-8.  Back to cited text no. 2      
3.Al Sayyari AA. The history of renal transplan­tation in the Arab world: A view from Saudi Arabia. Am J Kidney Dis 2008;51(6):1033-46.  Back to cited text no. 3      
4.Jabur WL, Mohammed Saaed HM, Abdulla K. Acute renal transplant rejection: a single center experience. Saudi J Kidney Dis Transpl 2008; 19(6):948-51  Back to cited text no. 4      
5.The Declaration of Istanbul on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism. International Summit on Transplant Tourism and Organ Trafficking in Turkey. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol 2008;3:1227-31.  Back to cited text no. 5  [PUBMED]    
6.Elusta A, Shawish T, Mishra A, et al. Living related donor kidney transplantation in Libya: A single center experience. Saudi J Kidney Dis Transpl 2008;19(5):831-7.  Back to cited text no. 6      
7.Moosa MR. The long-term outcome of kidney transplantation in patients under cyclosporine a developing country experience. Clin Transplant 2004;18(3):267-73.  Back to cited text no. 7      
8.Ibrahim HN, Foley R, Tan L, et al. Long-term consequences of kidney donation. N Engl J Med 2009;360(5):459-69.  Back to cited text no. 8      
9.Nejatisafa AA, Mortaz-Hedjri S, Malakoutian T, et al. Quality of life and life events of living unrelated kidney donors in Iran: A multicenter study. Transplantation 2008;86(7):937-40.  Back to cited text no. 9      
10.Nemati E, Taheri S, Pourfarziani V, et al. Cyto­megalovirus disease in renal transplant reci­pients: an Iranian experience. Exp Clin Transplant 2008;6(2):132-6.  Back to cited text no. 10      

Correspondence Address:
Pishtewan H Al-Bazzaz
Assistant Professor of Urology, Consultant Kidney Transplant Surgeon, Hawler Medical University, Erbil
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 20228533

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  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4]

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