A team of kidney transplant surgeons at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has successfully performed a rare kidney transplant for a patient whose blood type is incompatible with that of the donor.

A blood type match between the donor and recipient of an organ, like a whole liver or kidney, is a must.

With this unprecedented surgery in Qatar, HMC has become one of the very few organ transplant centres in the world that perform transplant surgery for a donor and recipient whose blood type does not match. These centres represent only 5% of the total organ transplant centres worldwide.

In a statement to QNA, Medical Director of HMC's Hamad General Hospital and Head of Qatar Organ Transplant Centre, Dr Yousuf al-Maslamani, stated: "Thanks to the great advancement of the healthcare sector in Qatar, this great leap has been achieved. The healthcare sector's advancement coupled with the highly trained clinical teams and state of the art medical technology placed Qatar's healthcare system among the best healthcare systems in the world.

"A great deal of preoperative preparation work, specialised technology, and certain surgical expertise are needed for this rare type of surgery. That is the reason why very few organ transplant centres take up this laborious task", said Dr al-Maslamani.

Preparation work for this type of surgery starts at the laboratory, then work moves to the hospital where the antibodies are removed from the recipient's blood through a repeated filtration process.

Following the transplant, the recipient will have to undergo routine tests as well as daily tests to check levels of antibodies in the blood to ensure that they are within the normal range. In the event, the antibodies rate was found to be higher than normal the filtration process would be repeated as a precautionary measure.

The success of the transplant between a donor and a recipient whose blood-type do not match opens the door for more transplants from living donors. With this in mind, we anticipate a 20% rise in the number of kidney transplants in Qatar. About 20 organ transplant surgeries, involving living and brain-dead donors, have been performed at HMC last year, Dr al-Maslamani added.

"HMC has all human and technical capabilities and is ready to launch a pancreatic transplantation program, but we haven't had yet a case that meets the medical requirements for pancreas transplantation from a deceased donor," Dr al-Maslamani added.

In Qatar, kidney transplantation from living donors is only performed among related family members, and the available state-of-the-art technologies have made it possible to extract kidneys from living donors through simple laparoscopic procedures.

The first kidney transplant surgery in Qatar was performed in 1986, but the Doha Organ Donation Accord became the cornerstone for the development of organ transplantation services in Qatar.

On 4 September 2010, the national organ donation campaign was launched under the theme "Together We Plant Hope" to officially kick off the development journey of HMC's organ transplantation programme and turn HMC into a national centre for multi-organ transplant in Qatar.

Only ten days following the official opening of the Qatar Centre for Organ Transplantation in late 2011, the first liver transplant surgery was successfully performed in Qatar.

"In Qatar, we have kidney, liver, and cornea transplantation programmes, and transplant surgeries are performed by a team of highly skilled professionals. We have state-of-the-art facilities and provide safe and compassionate care," Dr al-Maslamani concluded.

An organ transplant can be a life-saving procedure and can significantly improve the quality of life for someone with chronic organ failure.

These life-saving organs come from deceased donors who have pledged during their lifetime to give their organs to someone in need. A deceased organ donor can save up to eight lives.