Nikolaos Ntigrintakis Received A New Kidney from His Wife at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: A Dubai-based technology entrepreneur is recovering well after a kidney transplant and has praised the UAE’s deployment of advanced medical technology to support patients.  

Nikolaos Ntigrintakis, a Swedish entrepreneur of Greek descent, had suffered from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) for many years. Doctors in his home country had treated his symptoms with a range of medications that, un-noticed by them or Nikolaos,  were silently damaging his kidneys. After a few years of treatment, his care team discovered the damage and informed him that he would likely need a kidney transplant in the future.

“It’s uncommon to see patients with kidney damage linked to medication. particularly someone taking medication for IBD. Nikolaos was unfortunate to have experienced this problem and doubly so that it went unnoticed for such a long time. With appropriate follow-up, these complications can generally be avoided altogether, and very rarely progress to the point that a transplant is required,” explains Dr. Nizar Attallah, a transplant nephrologist at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, an integral part of Mubadala Health.

After moving to Dubai from Sweden in 2013, his new doctor noticed the damage was accelerating. Four years later, and more than 15 years after being told of his kidney damage, Nikolaos was forced to begin dialysis while waiting for a kidney transplant.

“Dialysis was tough. I had to re-organize my life to accommodate my condition. I have a wife and two daughters as well as three companies. I had to appoint a temporary CEO during my treatment and leave them in maintenance mode rather than work to grow them. I remember making decisions from my dialysis bed and just waiting for good news about a transplant,” says Nikolaos.

After a year of dialysis and waiting for a kidney, Nikolaos decided to take matters into his own hands. His wife had been offering to donate one of her kidneys to him and although initially reluctant to accept, he began looking for hospitals where he could potentially get a transplant.

“After we had decided to go ahead, the next question was where to have the operation. I looked into travelling to the US, Germany or Spain but I did my due diligence and decided to opt for Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. I’m very glad I did,” continues Nikolaos.

Upon visiting Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, his care team assessed the transplant compatibility between Nikolaos and his wife, finding that of the eight genes that determine a kidney match, they had three in common, making his wife a close match.

“Generally, a parent or sibling would be a 50% match so for Nikolaos’ wife to be 37.5% match was very fortuitous, particularly as they come from quite different backgrounds. Happily, with advances in medication, even if people have no genes in common, we can still perform the transplant. These medical advances mean that more people than ever can benefit from life-saving kidney transplants,” says Dr. Attallah.

After a detailed assessment of both Nikolaos and his wife that included a full day of psychological assessment to determine whether they were ready for the transplant, surgeons performed the operation. To Nikolaos’ great relief, his wife’s operation was able to be performed minimally invasively, sparing her a long recovery from surgery.

“The way the team took care of me and my wife was fantastic, the checks they did before the surgery to make sure we understood what we were getting into – especially for my wife – really made us feel better about the whole process. After the surgery, I am back at work and taking a much more active role in my companies. I feel better than I have in years and the gift my wife gave me has certainly brought us closer together. She saved my life and that’s something I’ll never forget,” concludes Nikolaos.

Following his surgery, Nikolaos has regular checkups with his care team who monitor his progress closely. He soon began travelling for work again without the restrictions that dialysis placed on him. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, he began using Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s patient portal application to keep in touch with his care team and video conference with his doctor.

“As a tech entrepreneur he has taken to the app very well, I speak to him every couple of weeks and if he has a question, he knows he can get in touch quickly through our patient portal app. The support of constant communication really makes him feel more confident in his recovery. It’s a real boost for him,” says Dr. Attallah.

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 2021, Mubadala Health operates, manages, and develops a portfolio of healthcare assets including: Abu Dhabi Telemedicine Centre (ADTC), Amana Healthcare, Capital Health Screening Centre (CHSC), Healthpoint, Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICLDC), and National Reference Laboratory (NRL). In addition, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is an integral part of Mubadala Health. 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.