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There were three organ donations in the United Arab Emirates in 2017. Last year, there were 39 with a total of 146 transplants. These figures, experts told a networking forum at Expo 2020 Dubai on Saturday, indicate people’s growing acceptance of the importance of organ donation.

Speakers at the event, held by the Spain Pavilion, in collaboration with the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA) and Spain’s Donation and Transplant Institute (DTI), said there is no better venue to do so than at Expo 2020 Dubai, because it connects with Expo’s theme, Connecting Minds, Creating the Future.

His Excellency Dr Ali Al Obaidli, SEHA Kidney Care Chief Medical Officer and Chairman of the UAE National Committee for Organ Donation and Transplant said: “We are blessed to have a country with such a diverse population and society. The culture of donation, the culture of solidarity, of tolerance. is very strong in the UAE. The growth in organ donation represents the solidarity of mankind. We are blessed to have this multicultural society of more than 200 nationalities who consider the UAE their home.”

Dr Obaidli said Expo 2020 Dubai provides an outstanding opportunity for the forum: “It is ‘Connecting Minds and Creating the Future’ when we apply the basic principle to an area like organ failure, organ donation and transplantation. This field represents sustainability aspects. Human individuals and families, despite losing a family member, take the decision to save a life because [their loss] is sustaining other lives.”

Dr Marti Manyalich, President of the DTI Foundation said only 10 per cent of people needing organ transplants have received them.

He said: “There are more people who can donate. But you have to explain to the health professionals, and secondly, the community has to be aware that this can [be done] very successfully – you can receive an organ and live longer.”

The kidney is the most transplanted organ, Dr Manyalich explained. “That helps many people who are [undergoing] dialysis. If you are on dialysis, your quality of life, your survival is shorter than when you have [a] transplanted kidney, where your quality of life improves and you can live longer – 20 years or more.”

The experts added regular dialysis is actually more expensive than a kidney transplant.

Dr Obaidli said: “This requires us to focus on prevention – preventing kidney, heart, lung and liver failure. Prevention is always better than cure. This is the [Expo 2020 Dubai] subtheme of sustainability. We need to stay healthy so that fewer people will require organ transplants. This way, anybody who needs it, gets it.”

Dr Manyalich said Spain has almost achieved “self-sufficiency,” meaning, “patients on the waiting list can receive an organ in less than one year.”

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