45-Year-Old Mother of Six Reaches Recovery Milestone; In-Country Post-Operative Care Playing Key Role
Six weeks after her history-making operation, the UAE’s first double-lung transplant recipient is recovering well, according to physicians at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.
Rahima Younis, a 45-year-old expatriate, underwent the complex procedure on June 10 after suffering from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a debilitating, progressive disease that causes extensive scarring of the lungs, for the past few years.
The patient, who had to use a wheelchair and oxygen cylinders prior to the operation, can now walk and breathe freely.
“I am very happy to have had this surgery,” said Rahima, a mother of six children who has lived in Abu Dhabi for 32 years. “I cannot describe how it feels to breathe again – it is the first time that I have not been plugged into oxygen for three-and-a-half years.
“Living without oxygen has been a dream of mine for a long time, but I never thought this day would come. I am very happy to have this second chance at life,” added Rahima, who worked as a private tutor before she was diagnosed with IPF.
Dr. Fadi Hamed , a pulmonologist and critical care physician who heads the medical-surgical intensive care unit (ICU) and also acts as a director of the lung transplant program at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, said Rahima’s recovery was impressive since undergoing the five-and-a-half-hour surgery, which was performed by Dr. Redha Souilamas , the hospital’s Chair of Thoracic Surgery, and a team of specialists.
“While a double-lung transplant is a complex procedure, following the surgery Rahima is continuing to recover well, having been discharged from Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi just nine days after her surgery,” said Dr. Hamed.
“This is the result of having well-trained, experienced surgeons, transplant pulmonologists and a comprehensive Intensive Care Unit with multidisciplinary transplant teams to assist in Rahima’s recovery – it is a very positive sign,” he added.
There is no definitive cure for IPF and patients are typically given a low survival rate after diagnosis without transplant surgery. IPF symptoms include severe breathing difficulties, a dry cough, fatigue, weight loss, swelling of the legs and ‘clubbing’, a widening and rounding of the fingertips.
“I want to thank Dr. Redha Souilamas and Dr. Fadi Hamed, the UAE leadership and everybody from the team at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi for this life-saving surgery. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi provides healthcare for everyone and I am very grateful for their excellent care,” said Rahima. “I would also like to thank the donor and their family, who I have thought about every day since waking up from the surgery. Not everyone is so generous, and I don’t know how to reward them, but I wish them the best.”
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi has a comprehensive follow-up program for lung transplant patients, which includes regular visits to the hospital for tests to prevent infection and rejection.
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is the UAE’s first and only multi-organ transplant center, working in partnership with other organizations to help improve the health of the community. In February this year, the hospital performed successful lung and liver transplants, as well as the country’s first full heart transplant in December 2017.