How did the war affect organ transplantation in Syria?
1Pediatric Nephrology, Farah Association for Child with Kidney Disease, Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic
Since 2011, the Syrian conflict has destroyed much of the country's infrastructure. The deteriorating humanitarian situation has involved health workers and facilities. In 2010, before the war, 385 kidney transplants were performed in Syria. This number declined to 154 in 2013 (60% less) before increasing to 251 transplants in 2018, which is still 35% less than the number of transplants performed before the war. In addition, the number of operational kidney transplant centers has decreased from 8 in 2010, distributed over 3 cities, to only 4 in 2013, all located in Damascus, which increased to 6 centers in 2019. Interestingly, with regard to type of living donor, the percentage of unrelated kidney donors has decreased by 20% for unclear reasons. Another alarming statistic is that more than 50% of kidney transplant physicians and surgeons are no longer practicing transplant medicine in their centers, either because they have left the country or because their centers had become nonoperational. Since the war, free and timely provision of immunosuppressive drugs for all patients in all provinces has been a leading challenge for health authorities and transplant patients. This difficulty has led to adverse medical consequences for patients. A project to initiate liver transplant came to a halt because of complex reasons but mainly because foreign trainers could not visit Syria. Although the autologous bone marrow transplant program had slowed until recently, it has become more active, involving both autologous and allogeneic transplants. The deceased-donor program is still not available in Syria; the war has just reinforced the many reasons that prevented the start of this program before the conflict. The commitment of transplant teams despite these large challenges continues to be extraordinary. The Syrian conflict has affected all aspects of organ transplant, paralyzing new projects and negatively affecting existing programs.
right-click to download