During his final year in school, the student began having headaches and blurred vision, after which he visited the doctor with his mother.
A mother donated a kidney to her 19-year-old son and helped him recover in time for his graduation ceremony. Umair’s illness meant he was forced to miss a great deal of school and was unable to take his final exams.
However, after his recovery from the kidney transplant, he was able to join his friends and walk the stage at his high school graduation last month, where he delivered one of the speeches. It is a memory he and his family treasure as a marker of his recovery.
During his final year in school, the American student began having headaches and blurred vision, after which he visited an eye specialist with his mother.
However, the examination revealed a much larger problem.
Umair’s eyes showed signs of high blood pressure, with changes to his optic nerve. When tested, it was 180/100, almost twice what it should have been. Further testing revealed that high blood pressure had damaged his kidneys, with their function dropping to just 8 per cent.
“When discovered, his kidney disease was quite advanced, and we realised very quickly that Umair would need a kidney transplant to recover fully,” said Dr Nizar Attallah, a transplant nephrologist at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.
Doctors first began treatment to try and manage Umair’s blood pressure, hoping it would allow his kidneys to recover. Due to the advanced stage of his disease, Umair began undergoing dialysis three times a week.
His mother Safwa told Khaleej Times on Tuesday that when doctors first told her about her son’s condition, she was devastated. “I was in shock. I asked myself what I was going to do. I resolved then and there that I would donate one of my kidneys to Umair,” she said.
“I think it’s something that any mother would do if they are able to. I’ve met parents that weren’t so lucky, it really drives home the importance of organ donation.”
The American mother said before the transplant, she had to travel from Sharjah – where the family stays – to Abu Dhabi three times a week for four months for her son’s dialysis.
After a detailed evaluation, Safwa was confirmed as a tissue match for Umair and was able to begin the process of donating her kidney. Following the transplant, Umair made a remarkable recovery. He was up and walking in a couple of days and was discharged after just six days.
Son praises mum’s sacrifice
“I’m so grateful for what my mum did. I really appreciate her sacrifice. Besides giving birth to me, this was the second gift she gave me. I don’t know how I can thank her for giving me a second chance in life,” Umair told Khaleej Times. “I feel great now. Before the surgery I was very lethargic, I wouldn’t want to leave my bed and I was sleeping all day. I didn’t eat.”
The teenager said immediately after the surgery, he was feeling much better and much more energetic. “When you get diagnosed with something like this it’s all about the mindset. From the beginning I had decided this is not going to change anything in me or around me. I’ve started working out at the gym and I’m back to playing basketball. Next up is university,” said Umair.
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