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'My wife insisted she would give me her kidney'

Azhari El Nour endured kidney problems for years - until a transplant from his devoted wife transformed his life.

The 58-year-old knew it was only a matter of time before he suffered renal failure and faced the pain of dialysis and, eventually, surgery.

Mr El Nour said: "My appendix burst, and while doctors were examining me after the surgery, they found out that my kidneys were not functioning properly and that my toxicity levels were too high."

Doctors gave him medication and monitored his progress.

"My kidneys continued to deteriorate and in May 2007, they completely failed," said Mr El Nour. "From that moment, I started dialysis at Dubai Hospital." The procedure, which involves removing waste and unwanted water from the blood, saw Mr El Nour hooked up to a dialysis machine three times a week for five-hour sessions.

"Sometimes I'd feel nauseated and weak, and my haemoglobin levels would suddenly drop, resulting in extreme fatigue," he said. "I was the breadwinner but I found it very difficult to fulfil my daily job requirements. It was a very stressful period in my life."

While Mr El Nour, who is Sudanese, was receiving treatment, his immunity decreased. He developed a bacterial infection in his right eye and began losing his vision. He saw an ophthalmologist at Welcare Hospital and had specialised surgery. But before the procedure, a nephrologist, a kidney specialist, had to review his condition.

"The doctor told me continuous dialysis wouldn't last, that my life would always be very difficult," said Mr El Nour. "He told me I must look for a kidney transplant and advised me to look for close relatives."

Mr El Nour's wife, Amani, who is also his first cousin, did not think twice about donating her kidney.

After giving a blood sample, the doctor found she was a match.

"My wife told the doctor, 'This is my husband, I love him dearly and will donate my kidney to him'," said Mr El Nour. "I told my wife that this is my own problem and that I didn't want her to become a part of it. But she wouldn't accept it - she insisted that she'd donate her kidney to me."

With no transplant programme in the UAE at the time, the couple planned to go to Jordan.

But then a team of German kidney transplant surgeons came to Abu Dhabi and Mr El Nour underwent a transplant at Zayed Military Hospital, just four months after he began dialysis.

The operation, in September 2007, was successful and Mr El Nour has fully recovered. He has check-ups at Dubai Hospital every three months.

"My wife lives normally, without any medication or changes to her life," he said. "Even the family ties at home are stronger, especially as husband and wife. That your partner has volunteered to give you a part of her body and change your life for the better is truly beautiful."

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