By Maria Gregoriou
THE TRANSPLANT clinic at Nicosia general hospital has carried out transplants on 73 patients since its establishment in January 2011, with a 100 per cent success rate, it said yesterday.
Of these 73 transplants, 23 were conducted from post-mortem donors and 50 were kidney transplants from living donors. In 2011, some 27 patients received transplants, 29 in 2012 and 17 so far in 2013.
The 50 ‘live’ kidney operations were performed by laparoscopic nephrectomy, which is a minimally invasive technique to remove kidneys in a safe and effective way. It also results in less post-operative pain than traditional surgery.
“We are grateful to families in Cyprus who have recently donated the organs of their deceased family members and have granted life to our fellow citizens,” a statement released by the eexecutive medical director Petros Matsas and executive director of the transplant Clinic, Vassilis Hadjianastassiou of Nicosia general hospital.
According to the statement four post-mortem donors donated their organs after death in 2010, six in 2011, four in 2012 and three in 2013 so far.
“The transplant clinic believes it is very important to thank all the nursing, medical and laboratory staff of the general hospital who have contributed to this success. We would especially like to thank the intensive care unit, the donor coordinators, the compatibility labs, the operating theatre staff, the anesthesiology clinic and the staff of the kidney clinic,” it added.
The transplant clinic performed the first simultaneous kidney and pancreas transplant in the country in June 2012. Four people are currently on the waiting list to receive a simultaneous transplant and around 70 patients are waiting for a kidney transplant.
“Organ donations provide hope for the future to our fellow citizens,” the centre said.
Hadjianastassiou credited much of the centre’s success to the ten members of the transplant council appointed in July 2012 to supervise the ystem in Cyprus.
“This council represents society and this is the first time that Cyprus has such a regulatory process in any medical field,” he said.
The council has appointed a full-time trained coordinator who works closely with the intensive care unit. When someone is diagnosed as being brain dead, the coordinator approaches the patient’s family to explain the transplant process.
“Hopefully this will increase the amount of transplants and the use of rare organs,” Hadjianastassiou added.
Patients on the donor list can only receive organ transplants from donors in Cyprus “because other countries do not have a surplus of organs but for a small country like us it would be good to get into a bigger pool of potential donors,” Hadjianastassiou said.
The transplant council is currently trying to form agreements with other countries for patients who have been on the list for many years.
The clinic has also arranged with the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority’s (CyTA) to give out leaflets with their customers’ phone bills about how someone can register as a potential deceased donor and receive a donor card. These leaflets will reach 500,000 households.
The transplant clinic uses computer software with a point scoring system to determine which patient on the list will receive an available organ.
“The software uses certain variables to locate which patient is more eligible for the organ such as, compatibility, the matching of genes and the age of the donor compared to the ages of the patients,” Hadjianastassiou said.
The ranking system is not the only way that a patient is selected. “When the system ranks a patient as being suitable to receive the organ, I must then talk to the patient’s neurologist for example, and ask if the patient is still suitable for the transplant,” said Hadjianastassiou.
As organs are limited, the clinic has to consider the fact that everyone has equal opportunities, while also taking into account that organs are rare resources that must be utilized as best they can for the good of society as a whole, he added.
Each donor can give life to up to eight patients. “One post-mortem donor can donate two kidneys, two lungs, a heart, a kidney that can be divided into two and a pancreas,” Hadjianastassiou said.
The corneas of the eyes can also be transplanted to patients who are blind or who have trouble with seeing.
In order to become a potential post-mortem organ donator go to http://www.moh.gov.cy/moh/moh.nsf/index_en/index_en and complete the Cyprus potential organ donor database form.