Complex ‘Bench Reconstruction’ Surgery At Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi Saves Ali Shamsi’s Kidney

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: Ali Shamsi feels ‘amazing’ following an operation at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, an integral part of Mubadala Health, that saw surgeons transplant his own kidney back into his body after removing a tumor growing inside it.

Ali Shamsi, a UAE national living in Al Ain, was born with just one kidney. Diagnosed with cancer in his early sixties, he had an operation to remove part of his kidney. Years later, he returned to Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, concerned about chest pain he was experiencing and his history of smoking. After enrolling in the hospital’s smoking cessation program, he underwent a range of tests that showed his cancer had returned to the kidney.

“I was in shock. I had come to hospital about my smoking and suddenly I was diagnosed with cancer again in my only kidney. I didn’t know what to do. I thought about travelling abroad but I decided to put my faith in God and my doctors, and stay in my country to be treated near my family and friends,” says Ali.

Following his diagnosis, Ali underwent more detailed testing to confirm the diagnosis and determine whether the cancer had spread. While doctors were pleased to find it had not, the precise location of the tumor was a concern. Located deep inside his kidney, an operation to remove the tumor with the kidney in place was impossible.

“With Ali only having one kidney and the tumor deep in the renal vein, we were limited in our treatment options. If we simply removed his kidney, he would need years of regular dialysis before an eventual donor transplant, all of which carries its own set of risks. We determined that the best course of action for Ali was a complex surgery to remove his kidney, dissect the tumor, reconstruct the kidney and transplant it back into him,” says Dr. Waleed Hassen, Department Chair of Urology and the surgical oncologist who performed Ali’s surgery at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.     

The 11 hour surgery, known as a renal bench reconstruction, required a team of three highly skilled surgeons covering transplant, microsurgery and surgical oncology. As the tumor was located deep inside the kidney, reaching it safely with the kidney in place in the body was impossible. During the first stage of the operation, a transplant surgeon removed Ali’s kidney as they would from a donor.

Once outside the body, the kidney was placed in a slush solution to keep it cool while a surgical oncologist and microsurgeon worked together to carefully dissect it to reach the tumor.

“Having the kidney outside the body means we have much better access. Leaving it in place in the body would not only mean operating on it in a tight space but also a high risk of causing significant bleeding. Once outside and in a slush solution, we have more time and space available to us. That means we are able to use an optimal approach to reach the tumor, causing as little damage to healthy tissue as possible before putting it back together,” says Dr. Kashif Siddiqi, the urologist specialized in microsurgery at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, who took part in Ali’s surgery.

After accessing the tumor and removing it under strong magnification, surgeons repaired Ali’s kidney and began the delicate work of transplanting it back into his body.

“This was a very complex operation that really required a high level of skill and coordination across our team with extensive experience in both transplant and surgical oncology. There are not many places in the world that can perform this surgery. From Ali’s perspective, this approach means we are able to save his kidney, which is a huge benefit. He will not need dialysis, a transplant or immunosuppressants and can live his life normally, free of cancer,” says Dr. Bashir Sankari, Chair of the Surgical Subspecialties Institute at Cleveland clinic Abu Dhabi and the transplant surgeon that participated in the procedure.

Following his successful surgery, Ali spent almost three weeks recovering in hospital before returning home to Al Ain. He then began dialysis at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi – Al Ain while his kidney continued to recover.

“Before the operation I was very scared, I cried on my way to the operating room. I had never heard of such an operation where they take out your kidney and then put it back. Dr. Hassen and the team truly saved my life and I owe them the world for that. When doctors told me my kidney had recovered enough and I could stop dialysis, I was flying. It was the best news I ever heard. I feel amazing now, I was even able to fast this Ramadan because I felt so strong. Through this journey, I really feel that Dr. Hassen has become like a brother to me. The UAE has the best healthcare in the world,” concludes Ali.

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is the UAE’s sole multi-organ transplant center and performed the UAE’s first heart, liver and lung transplants. The hospital also offers a full range of medical and surgical treatments for cancer and will open a dedicated oncology center scheduled for 2022.

For more information or to book an appointment at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, call 800 8 CCAD (2223) visit or download the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi app.

About Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi:

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, an integral part of Mubadala Health, is a multispecialty hospital on Al Maryah Island in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is a unique and unparalleled extension of US-based Cleveland Clinic’s model of care, specifically designed to address a range of complex and critical care requirements unique to the Abu Dhabi population.

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi has the following Institutes: Heart & Vascular, Neurological, Digestive Disease, Eye, Respiratory, Critical Care, Surgical Subspecialties, Medical Subspecialties, Emergency Medicine, Anesthesiology, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Imaging, Quality & Patient Safety, and Clinical & Nursing. In all, more than 40 medical and surgical specialties are represented at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.

The facilities at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi combine state-of-the-art amenities and world-class service standards. The hospital is a 394 (expandable to 490) bed facility, with five clinical floors, three diagnostic and treatment levels, and 13 floors of critical and acute inpatient units. It is a physician-led medical facility served by North American/European Board Certified (or equivalent) physicians. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi provides patients in the region direct access to the world’s best healthcare providers and Cleveland Clinic’s unique model of care, reducing their need to travel abroad for treatment.

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi – Al Ain began offering select medical services in December 2017. The facility is located on the Tawam Hospital Campus in Al Ain.

About Mubadala Health:

Mubadala Health is the integrated healthcare network of Mubadala Investment Company. Established in 2021, Mubadala Health operates, manages, and develops a portfolio of healthcare assets including: Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, Healthpoint, Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICLDC), Amana Healthcare, National Reference Laboratory (NRL), Capital Health Screening Centre (CHSC), Abu Dhabi Telemedicine Centre (ADTC), Danat Al Emarat, HealthPlus Diabetes & Endocrinology Center, HealthPlus Family Clinics, HealthPlus Fertility, HealthPlus Women’s Health Center, Moorfields Eye Hospital Abu Dhabi, and a stake in Al Meswak Dental Clinics Group. With a vision to transform the regional healthcare landscape, Mubadala Health sets a new benchmark for the UAE and regional healthcare industry through its state-of-the-art facilities and world-class caregivers who strive to put patients first across its continuum of care. Innovation, research, and education are the foundational pillars of Mubadala Health, supporting the further development of a sustainable healthcare sector in line with the vision of Abu Dhabi and the region.