Dr Ahmer Hameed, MBBS, BSc, MS, PhD.

Westmead Hospital surgeons with the support of Westmead Institute for Medical Research (WIMR) researchers have performed a successful transplant of a ‘revived’ kidney into a patient.

A first in Australia, the success has been achieved  based on cutting edge research technique, a brainchild of Dr Ahmer Hameed where normothermic machine perfusion (NMP) on donated kidneys is performed before transplanting them into patients.

Donor organs are stored on ice prior to transplantation and this storage time impacts their ability to work immediately after transplantation. NMP is a procedure that ‘revives’ a kidney damaged by exposure to cold, or injury sustained during the donation process, utilising red cells, body temperature and oxygen to provide resuscitation to the kidney’s cells.

The WIMR research team sought to find a way to rejuvenate a damaged kidney using NMP, and the research project was carried out by Dr Ahmer Hameed supervised by Associate Professor Rogers, Professor Henry Pleass and Professor Wayne Hawthorne.

A TGA-Approved NMP device is expensive, so Dr Hameed and the team scoured Westmead Hospital for spare machine parts.

“With the help of the hospital, bio-engineers and some duct tape, we were able to make a machine perfusion system suitable for our initial research,” Dr Hameed said.

He further added, “For this pilot stage, we sought to prove the feasibility and safety of the procedure. We were able to access donated kidneys that had been damaged to the point where they could not be transplanted, and we demonstrated in the lab that NMP could resuscitate these kidneys. Not only this, but the NMP technique seemed to improve kidney quality over time, so the kidney worked better and straight away.”

Dr Ahmer Hameed is the son-in-law of well known member of the Muslim community, Dr Javaid khan working as senior professional officer at the university of Queensland, Brisbane researching  in the area of bio-polymers.

His wife Zeba khan is a teacher in early childhood and the coordinator at Australian international Islamic college in Brisbane.

Dr Javaid khan, an Aligarian from India is the father of four kids Dr Sifat khan (dentist), Sheeza khan (pharmacist at Westmead hospital), Saleha khan (completing 4th year medicine) and Hamza khan (completing third year dentistry).

The first two transplants of a kidney treated with NMP have now been conducted at Westmead Hospital, and the results are very promising. Three months post-surgery, the patients are doing very well and have good kidney function, avoiding the need for post-operative dialysis, which occurs in up to 50% of the kidney transplants performed at Westmead.

Auburn resident Folio Emelio, 64, was the first of two patients to receive one of the specially-treated donor kidneys in November 2020, ending nearly seven years of dialysis for 15 hours every week.

Each year in Australia more than 800 people receive a transplant due to kidney failure caused by injury or disease, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

Increasing the number of donor kidneys that are suitable for transplantation would have a major impact on kidney transplant wait times in Australia and around the globe.