Islamabad - A team of health professionals led by Dr Faisal Dar, consultant liver transplant surgeon, and Dr Najamul Hassan, director liver transplant programme, has performed successfully the most complex and complicated over 120 liver transplant surgeries from a living donor for the first time in Pakistan since the start of the programme in April 2012 here at a local hospital.

Shifa International Hospital (SIH) in this connection organised a media briefing and patient experience sharing session on Saturday. Chief Executive Officer of SIH Dr Manzoor H Qazi, Dr Najamul Hassan and Dr Faisal Saud Dar held the briefing. Recipients and donors of living donor liver transplant surgeries also attended the briefing.

The transplant included from an infant of 7 months to 72-year-old patient. Dr Manzoor Qazi said that liver disease was an endemic in Pakistan and millions of young Pakistanis were suffering from these deadly diseases. “One hospital alone is not enough to take care of the need of these millions. We need such institutions in every big city of Pakistan,” he remarked. The country needed trained manpower and expertise in doctors, nurses, technicians, laboratory, radiology and diagnostics, he said. “We are committed to do our part - but we also need help from the government.”

According to World Health Organisation estimates, three to four million people get infected with hepatitis C virus each year and two-thirds of the newly infected develop chronic liver disease. HCV is responsible for up to 70 per cent of liver cancer cases and liver cirrhosis is the 18th commonest cause of death. Overall number of infected Pakistanis is put at 11 million and hence Pakistan is referred to as “cirrhotic state” in international health circles.

Dr Najamul Hassan recalled that Shifa started this programme on the 27th of Ramadan, 2009 while planning to do first transplantation within three years of the commencement of the programme. “We achieved that target well ahead of time when we performed our first living donor liver transplant by Pakistani surgical team on the April 30, 2012, when Mohammad Yasin, a 12-year-old boy, got a donation of right lobe from his cousin Humaira Sadaf to make history in Pakistan,” said Dr Najam. “We performed 100 living donor transplants successfully on 12th of August 2014,” he added.

Dr Najam informed the media persons that Shifa international Hospital’s team was now regularly performing about 7 to 8 living donor liver transplants per month. He said that the most important factor of the success of this programme included a scientific and solid plan that was initially developed by him after joining Shifa in June 2009 to set up the vision for the liver transplant programme.

Highlighting the beginning of the programme, he said liver transplant is a complex surgery and cannot be done initially without the support of international faculty. He said Shifa’s liver transplant team was lucky to have been patronised by world renowned liver transplant surgeon Prof Dr Mohammad Rela who is a professor of hepatobiliary surgery and liver transplantation surgery at King’s College London. Dr Rela was physically present in the first 15 liver transplants done at Shifa International Hospital.