Monday, June 12, 2006

Pioneer kidney transplant patient dies

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: One would have expected Martin Rinyeb, 61, the country’s first and longest-surviving kidney transplant patient, to die of a kidney-related problem.
But Rinyeb, a Land Dayak of Sarawak, who lived 31 years with a kidney from a younger brother, died of complications from a bite from a stray cat.
He was bitten on the ankle by the cat in his house in Kampung Sebuloh, Bau, on March 23 and died two days later.
Consultant urologist Datuk Dr Hussein Awang, who made Malaysian medical history with the transplant, is now the director of Tawakal Hospital.
"I was shocked to hear of his death," said Dr Hussein.
Recalling the transplant operation on Dec 15, 1975, he said: "There was excitement at the Institute of Urology and Nephrology in Hospital Kuala Lumpur. I was trained to perform renal transplants in Australia and I was waiting for the first patient."
He said Rinyeb, then a Mara field officer, was suffering from acute renal failure and was referred to the HKL by a doctor in Kuching in late 1975.
Rinyeb had a donor in his younger brother Augustin, a veterinary student.
"Their kidneys matched perfectly. We decided to do the transplant as we were prepared," said Dr Hussein, who prior to that had been sent for two years’ training in urology and renal transplant at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney.
A 12-member team headed by Dr Hussein performed the six-hour surgery at the urology operation theatre, starting about 8am.
Dr Hussein said: "I knew the operation was successful and everything was going well when we attached the kidney and straight away saw the urine coming out. There was much excitement."
On the 10th day, Rinyeb was up and about, walking and meeting people. He was discharged three weeks later.
The success of the operation was a momentous occasion, marking Malaysia’s entry into the field of organ transplants. Nearly 20 years later, the country saw the first heart and liver transplant.
The kidney transplant programme moved on rapidly after the pioneering effort in 1975. Since then, more than 1,000 kidney transplants have been carried out.
Dr Hussein did 101 of these operations at HKL and six at Tawakal Hospital.

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