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Brunei’s first kidney transplant concluded a success

Publication Date : 29-11-2013


Brunei’s first locally-performed kidney transplant has been declared a success, said the Ministry of Health yesterday, with both donor and recipient recovering well at Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital.

The surgery marks a major development in Brunei’s medical services, giving patients with end stage renal disease a better alternative to regular dialysis.

A 21-year-old female, Nurnaqiyyah Sarirah Hj Azmani, is the first person to undergo the procedure locally.

“She has suffered from kidney disease since she was 9,” said Dr Jackson Tan, a nephrologist at the Renal Services Department (RSD). “She started dialysis last year but her kidney condition deteriorated.”

Nurnaqiyyah’s father, Hj Azmani Hj Aliamin, donated one of his kidneys to his daughter on November 21 in a surgery carried out by a team of doctors and specialists comprising staff from the Ministry of Health, assisted by a transplant surgeon from Australia and a nephrologist from Malaysia.

“About three days after the surgery I could get up and walk and began to eat normally,” said Hj Azmani. “I feel perfectly normal. And now our daughter will no longer have the burden of having to do the dialysis all the time.”

Nurnaqiyyah is still in the intensive care unit at RIPAS Hospital and her kidney function appears normal and there have been no signs of her body rejecting the new kidney, said Minister of Health Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Johan Pahlawan Setia Hj Adanan Begawan Pehin Siraja Khatib Seri Setia Hj Md Yusof.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, the minister said the transplant patient will now be able to live longer, and have a better quality of life.

“Before this, patients with kidney disease would have to undergo dialysis, two or three times a week,” he said.

“With the option of a transplant, they can have a better quality of life — they can perform daily tasks with less effort, they can work or pray uninterrupted, not having to worry about going through constant dialysis.”

Previously, the government sent eligible kidney transplant patients to Singapore or Malaysia for the operation, at a cost of approximately US$100,000 per patient, said YB Pehin Hj Adanan.

“Patients would have to stay there three to four months to prepare for the surgery. But now that we can offer transplants locally, the cost of the surgery would be around US$40,000.”

The minister added that the cost of the operation is still significantly lower than dialysis, which he estimated costs the government US$120,000 to US$140,000 per patient per year.

“And that is not including medication or the equipment. With the introduction of the local kidney transplant programme, patients will be able to do

their treatment at home and not be away from their families for a prolonged period.”

To date, the government has sent 27 Bruneians to undergo the transplant surgery overseas.

“The most important factor of this new development is that we reduce the burden to the patient, families and the cost to the state,” added Jackson. “They will have a longer life and it will also increase the quality of life.”

The Ministry of Health carried out a detailed feasibility study on the implementation of the local kidney transplant programme, weighing the costs and benefits to the public.

“After the success of the first surgery, other eligible patients without many complications will be able to undergo a kidney transplant in the country and live a normal life, performing daily activities without relying on dialysis,” said the minister.

Brunei has one of the highest prevalences of end stage renal failure in the world, with one in 10 people suffering from some form of kidney disease.

According to a previous report, about 30 to 40 per cent of Brunei’s 500 dialysis patients are eligible for kidney transplant. A recent survey also indicated that 80 per cent of respondents said they would donate a kidney to a loved one.



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