Ongwediva Medipark makes more medical history

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Helvy Shaanika

Ongwediva-Three more people have become recipients of a kidney transplant at Ongwediva Medipark, bringing to four the number of kidney transplants performed at the northern hospital.

Ongwediva Medipark places Namibia among few countries in sub-Saharan Africa that have undertaken kidney transplant surgery, and is second to hospitals in South Africa in SADC.
Other countries that do kidney transplants in Africa are Morocco and Tunisia in northern Africa.

Ongwediva Medipark managing director Dr Tshali Iithete said the hospital recently successfully operated on three chronic renal failure patients, using kidneys obtained from live family donors.

Recipients included a 63-year-old Tanzanian female lecturer who received a kidney from a 27-year-old relative, a 38-year-old male who received a kidney from a 35-year-old relative and a 21-year-old female university student, who received a kidney from her 26-year-old relative.

Two of the patients have been receiving dialysis in Windhoek while the third received the treatment in Ongwediva. All of the patients had been waiting sometime for a transplant, said Iithete.

“Ongwediva Medipark transplant team is a multi-disciplinary team comprised of coordinator Laina Ndoroma, a team of doctors from various disciplines and allied health services. The surgeries were conducted by Drs Shabaan Kaikai and Brown Ndofor of Ongwediva Medipark under the supervision of Namibia’s renowned medical professor Fillemon Amaambo, and South African-based professors Russel Britz and Jerome Loveland,” said Iithete.

“The team has been gaining confidence in this much-needed surgery. A number of patients are currently being worked on to undergo the same transplant procedures at Medipark,” said Iithete.

Currently Medipark has a list of 53 private and state patients on dialysis, and 12 of them have opted and registered for a kidney transplant. Those on the list include Namibians and patients from other African countries.

Last year Medipark made history when Bernhard Maswahu, 59, became the first Namibian to undergo a kidney transplant locally. Maswahu’s surgery was pronounced successful. His 20-year-old son Musa Maswahu was the donor and both are now living a normal life. Before Maswahu’s operation, Namibia depended on South Africa for this procedure, which was both emotionally and financially draining.

While it would cost N$1.4 million to have the procedure done in Cape Town, Ongwediva Medipark quotes N$750,000, all costs inclusive.

“It could be less as we grow, because patients may not stay long in the ICU,” said Iithete.
Iithete further advised kidney failure patients, and their families, to consider a transplant over dialysis, maintaining it is a lifelong solution and less costly.

One dialysis session costs N$2,000 but some patients require dialysis up to three times a week. This translates into N$280,000 a year.

In the absence of a transplant, kidney failure sufferers depend on dialysis treatment for life.
“It is therefore Medipark’s intention to create a strong sustainable transplant programme that complements the government’s efforts in health delivery,” said Iithete.

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