First-ever kidney transplant in Namibia a success

01 Apr 2016 12:10pm
ONGWEDIVA, 01 APR (NAMPA) – The first-ever kidney transplant in Namibia took place Thursday at Ongwediva Medipark Private Hospital, making medical history and leaving one Namibian hopeful to living a better life.
According to the hospital’s Managing Director, Dr Tshali Iithete during a press conference on Thursday, it took 15 months of preparation for the procedure on 59-year-old Bernard Muswahu, who is an employee in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry in the Oshana Region.
“The patient has been suffering from end-stage and has been on dialysis for a while and needed to have the procedure done as soon as possible” Iithete said.
Muswahu, who had a kidney donated by his 20-year-old son Muhinda Muswahu, is said to be making great recovery.
“The preparations before the actual surgery took longer than expected as we had to scrub and clean up thoroughly, to make sure everything was in place,” the doctor noted.
The procedure, which was performed on Tuesday 29 March this year, took a team of local surgeons from Ongwediva under the supervision of renowned transplant experts from Namibia and South African from private and public hospitals, 5 hours and 30 minutes to complete.
“This was also supported by Professors Fillemon Amaambo and Ockie Oosthuizen and spear-headed by our exceptional young resident surgeons Dr. Brown Ndofor and Dr. Shabaan Kaikai.”
The managing director added that kidney disease, especially chronic renal failure, has become a common condition in Namibia and that the transplant procedure was only done in South Africa, which was not always accessible to every patient, mainly due to financial constraints.
“There is a pressing need to address these and other transplant related conditions and ensure improved health capabilities in the country, and the Ongwediva Medipark Transplant Unit is one such effort in broadening these capabilities and making quality health and patient care a reality in Namibia.”
The Namibian transplant team also received technical support from the Donald Gordon Hospital in Johannesburg that assisted in recruiting and setting up a transplant team and unit at the Ongwediva hospital in November 2014, as well as training in kidney transplants procedures for the past 15 months.
The Minister of Health and Social Services Bernard Haufiku congratulated the Ongwediva Medipark and South African team, saying collaborations such as these are crucial to enable success in these kinds of procedures at all times.
“The purpose is to save lives and achievements such as these are giving hope to neighbouring countries, such as Angola for example,” the minister stated.
Haufiku hopes that these kinds of procedures will give a better understanding to the Namibian nation of the importance of organ transplants.
“There is a long list of patients on dialysis waiting to have similar procedures and this should be encouragement enough to surgeons all around the country to get involved in projects like this,” Haufiku noted.
He also added Namibia has plans on establishing the availability of dialysis machines in other towns such as Oshakati in a few months’ time, which will enable the national health system to accommodate more patients in need of this treatment.
A patient with kidney failure spends an average of up to 3 times a week on dialysis and according to Ongwediva Medipark statistics; there are currently 31 patients dependent on the dialysis machine.
Sophia Iinkono, a teacher by profession had her kidney transplant procedure done in Cape Town, South Africa at the Christian Banard Memorial Hospital in 2009 after being on dialysis for 11 months, urged people to donate organs and save lives.
“I also advise future kidney transplant patients to take their medication frequently as this ensures even more successful results” Iinkono advised.