By ZEINAB NAJM
HEIGHTS — For 23-year-old resident Mohamad Haidar, the search for a kidney donor is an ongoing challenge.
The search began in 2008 when Haidar was diagnosed with Alport Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder which caused both of his kidneys to fail.
Haidar wasn’t in this battle alone; his older brother, Rami, was also diagnosed with the same disorder just six months before.
Both had surgery to place tubes in their abdomens and began in-home dialysis.
In, 2009 Rami Haidar received a kidney from a donor, Sherry Lodwig, after the family put up fliers and posts about the two brothers needing kidneys. Rami had been on dialysis for two years before receiving his new kidney, and is living a healthy life.
One month later, the family got a call for a possible kidney for Mohamad Haidar. He underwent transplant surgery, but the kidney had to be removed because his body rejected it. Testing was done and determined that he had a blood clotting issue.
His kidney disease has a side effect of extra fluid buildup in the body. In 2011, Haidar had to undergo surgery to have 7.5 pounds of water removed from his abdomen.
He has been on kidney dialysis for more than seven years, since he was 16 years old. Dialysis filters blood to get rid of the toxins in the body, similar to what a kidney does. His catheter is connected to a machine to artificially clean his blood.
Haidar began with peritoneal dialysis at home and had to switch to the more complicated hemodialysis in 2012 due to complications with his catheter.
That same year, Haidar was scheduled to have surgery to replace a catheter in his stomach but received bad news. Doctors told the family Haidar he had too much scar tissue in his abdomen which was blocking the passage.
The news also meant that Haidar would have to stay on hemodialysis.
Doctors suggested that Haidar place a permanent catheter in his forearm, but he refused. The possibility of the catheter causing an infection and spreading poison in his blood was not worth the risk, he said.
Haidar’s mother, Raeda Haidar, made the decision to move her son from University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor to Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit in December 2012, in hopes a kidney donor would be found.
The following May, the family held a Save Moe Haidar Dinner to raise awareness on Haidar’s condition. More than 700 people attended the event to support the family and cause.
In February 2014, the family received a call that a potential kidney was found. It came with a catch, though; it was a high-risk kidney. With a possibility that only four out of 100 antibodies would match, Haidar decided to have the surgery anyway.
Once the family got to the hospital for surgery they were told the kidney was no longer working.
A few months later, Haidar along with members of his family and friends, participated in the Kidney Walk at the Detroit Zoo to benefit the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan.
Today the family still keeps hope alive that a kidney donor will be a match for Haidar.
Rabih, Haidar’s younger brother, was tested last month to determine if he was a match; however, the family found out Rabih didn’t match the requirements.
“It was hard when my youngest brother recently turned 18 thinking that for sure he would be a match, but then we try to hope for something else because Allah has a plan and I rely on him,” Haidar said.
He is still optimistic about a possible kidney donor. He goes to a clinic three times a week for hemodialysis, with each session lasting five hours.
Just last week, Haidar was admitted to the emergency room due to an infection. He was placed on a blood thinner and still continues to fight his battle.
“Everything I’ve been through has been a blessing in disguise,” he said. “It has taught me the true meaning of life and health.”
Haidar has 98 percent antibodies in system — causing rejection to others’ blood — making him a difficult candidate for a kidney.
The donor needs to be living, with type A or O blood — either positive or negative — to begin the testing to determine if they are a match.
Donors from the United States and Canada can also be tested. Haidar’s health insurance company will send kits and cover shipping and handling costs to anyone interested in getting tested.
Anyone interested in donating can call Henry Ford Hospital at 313-916-5987 and say they are calling for Mohamad Haidar with his birthday Dec. 31, 1991.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected].)