Health Minister, Michael Hadjipantela, expressed on Sunday his satisfaction for the realization in the coming days of the first crossover renal transplantation with Israel, a pioneering method, as he said, that will give several patients in dire need of a transplant the opportunity to receive kidneys from the neighbouring country.

In statements at Nicosia General Hospital, the Minister thanked the doctors and the State Health Services Organisation, who, he said, worked tirelessly for the past 24 hours in order to complete the preparations for the procedure that will take place on March 1.

Asked whether there would be a follow-up with similar transplants under the agreement with Israel, Hadjipantela said that although the agreement was signed in 2017, for various reasons, a crossover transplant was been carried out in the past, adding that the aim was to carry out this transplant on March 1, but also to use the Nicosia General Hospital’s Transplant Clinic to carry out other transplants from Israel in order to help other patients in need of a transplant.

In a press release earlier on Sunday, the Health Ministry said that participants in the “Crossover Transplants” program are people in need of a transplant, whose potential living donors who wish to donate a kidney to their loved one cannot do so, either because of incompatible blood types or incompatible histocompatibility.

The Ministry also noted that the Transplant Clinic at the Nicosia General Hospital became operational last September, while the Minister of Health has signed a five-year cooperation plan with Israel, as well as a memorandum of understanding with Spain regarding the transplantation sector.

On his part, transplant surgeon at Nicosia General Hospital, Dr. Michalis Papoulas, said that the crossover transplant that will take place on March 1 is the first such transplant in Cyprus, both at national and transnational level, a milestone, as he said, for the General Hospital’s Transplant Clinic, for the kidney patients and patients in general, but also for the future of medicine in the country.

The surgeon of the Transplant Clinic added that the transnational agreement between Cyprus and Israel was signed in 2017 and was renewed in September 2022 by the Minister of Health, opening new horizons for all patients on the list for kidney transplantation and especially for those who do not have a compatible living donor, and thanked the Minister for his continued support, his help and his interest in the future of transplantation in the country.

As for the procedure, he said that in the early morning of March 1, a kidney donation by a Cypriot and an Israeli citizen will be carried out simultaneously at the Transplant Clinic of the Nicosia General Hospital and in Tel Aviv, followed by the exchange of the organs at 9.30am at Larnaca airport for transplantation to the two recipients.

“We hope that the result will live up to our expectations and be a springboard for other transplants, as there are at least three more couples who could potentially receive a kidney through this procedure, and another 10 hypersensitive individuals who could not be transplanted without this method,” Dr Papoulas concluded.

Asked by reporters about the current situation in Cypriot hospitals, Hatzipantela said that the country’s hospitals are constantly being tested, adding that an outbreak of Influenza A has been recorded, but the situation was still manageable. He also said that he would also discuss with SHSO’s Medical Director Dr. George Pantela about any issues regarding the Nicosia General Hospital in order to resolve them.

“The message I got from my visits to hospitals yesterday (in Paphos and Limassol) and today (in Nicosia) is that we have problems, but the SHSO always finds solutions,” the minister noted.

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