By Zainab Al Nasseri — MUSCAT: Jan. 10 – The incidence of renal failure in Oman is on the uptick, with as many as 1,697 Omanis are currently suffering from chronic kidney disease. However, a successful renal transplantation programme is providing renewed hope to sufferers, with 96 patients having so far benefited from it, according to sources in the Ministry of Health. While renal transplants are seen as the treatment of choice for most patients with end stage renal disease, cultural factors are to blame for dearth of donated kidneys for transplantation. Indeed, Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed al Saeedi, Minister of Health, weighed in on this issue late last year and called for concerted efforts to raise awareness on the importance of organ donations from brain-dead donors provided religious, legal and medical requirements are met.
Kidney disease sufferers among the local population are mainly those in the age bracket spanning 30 to 70 years. While diabetes and hypertension are primary causes in around 60 per cent of the cases, other factors include polycystic kidney disease, pyelonephritis, glomerulonephritis or kidney-related birth defects. According to a doctor from the Health Ministry’s Non-Communicable Diseases Department, a narrowed or blocked renal artery may also impair renal functions as this artery carries blood to the kidneys.
“Besides, long-term use of medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like NSAIDs and certain antibiotics can also damage the kidneys,” he said. “If you have diabetes or hypertension, it is important to control your blood sugar levels and blood pressure with diet, exercise and medicines. Avoid long use of analgesic medication without doctor’s prescription,” the official stressed. Renal replacement therapy is of three types: renal transplant, peritoneal dialysis and haemodialysis. Dialysis is considered a solution when there is no kidney donor or no perfect match is found for the patient. Usually, patients are treated in government hospitals free of cost according to certain timelines.
Back in 1980, Al Nahdha Hospital was the first institution equipped to provide this service. Now, there are 21 government dialysis units, including Royal Hospital and Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, which offer treatment and dialysis for emergency cases and hospitalised patients. Complementing government-run healthcare institutions are a small number of private hospitals. A source at a private dialysis clinic told the Observer that each dialysis session costs between RO 140 and RO 160 depending on the severity of the case. An expatriate patient, if diagnosed with end stage renal disease that requires dialysis, is usually treated in a government hospital until they are deemed medically fit to travel back to their home country.