Kuwaiti Doctor Assists in World’s First Penile Transplant

Post by Mark

Some of you might have read about the world’s first penile transplant that took place a few days ago. What you might not know is that one of the doctors who assisted in the surgery was a Kuwaiti (Dr Tallal AlQaoud). At first I was going to post about this myself but then realized it would make a lot more sense to have one of my friends who is an extremely talented surgeon himself and who has worked with Dr Tallal write the post instead. This is what he had to say about the surgery:


Kuwaiti Doctor Assists in World’s First Penile Transplant
As you may have read on reddit and pretty much everywhere else, surgeons in South Africa’s Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town have performed the first successful penile transplant recorded in history. It was performed by Professor André Van der Merwe and a team of urological surgeons.

This may not seem very significant unless you live in country where 500 men die every year from ritual circumcisions gone wrong but this is in fact a major breakthrough.

For urological surgeons restoring erectile function, urinary function and blood flow after a patient has had a penile amputation (due to trauma or cancer) is not difficult, it’s pretty much a pipe dream. To illustrate the point, the team based their methods on lessons learned from facial transplants and with the same level of complexity.

What you may not know is the story of the guy on the right bottom corner of the photo. That young surgeon is Dr Tallal AlQaoud; a Kuwaiti resident at McGill University.

While many people in our field first fall in love it for the competition, prestige or financial prospects, it’s a rare thing to see someone who is actually willing to train himself in surgery like an athlete would for the olympics.

Dr AlQaoud jumped into medicine after graduating from NES (Yes, the New English School). He went on to do his undergraduate degree in the UK and eventually returned to do his internship in Kuwait. After finishing his internship in Kuwait he felt the need to learn how to do research and build a solid knowledge of his field so he did a masters in the UK sacrificing a whole year of operating. He then went on to do a surgical residency at Mcgill and took time off to join Professor Van der Merwe’s team in South Africa.


It’s very rare that you get to meet a person like Tallal, when he could be learning the basics of his specialty he chose to concentrate on the academic aspect of his field and published industry leading journals, when he could have specialized in Kuwait or in England. Instead he chose to go further afield and train in North America where he was exposed everything from surgical robotics to transplantation. When he could have been enjoying ski season in Quebec, he chose to operate voluntarily in Cape Town. Then there was that time he had a Friday night off and decided to join me in an emergency surgery taking out a guys colon at midnight; but that’s a story for another day.

He is truly a person who has chosen a road less travelled and one of the rare occasions where Kuwait has made it’s mark on the history of medicine.

As much as I’d like to have interviewed him for this story or tried to promote him on it, he never had an instagram account, a blog and I’m pretty sure he’s forgotten his Facebook password. His response to me on whatsapp are in this post. I am indeed honoured to say I scrubbed in with a Kuwaiti who made it to the history books.

– Post by Saud, a Kuwaiti doctor living and working/training in Montreal. Twitter: @saudnz

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Kuwait Towers to Re-Open Today

Post by Mark


The Kuwait Towers which have been closed since 2012 are set to reopen today, coinciding with National Day and Liberation Day. If anyone gets a chance to pass by before I’m back in Kuwait, please let me know if they’ve changed anything on the inside. [Link]

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Bayan Palace now has a Botanical Garden

Post by Mark


KUNA doesn’t have much information on this, just the fact the 3,200 square-meters greenhouses host some exotic plants. My guess is these gardens are not open to the public since they’re located in the Bayan Palace. [Link]

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A record 3,415 Americans ditch their passports

Post by Mark


The number of Americans choosing to give up their passports hit a record 3,415 last year, up 14% from 2013, and 15 times more than in 2008, when only 231 people renounced their citizenship.

Experts say the recent surge is coming from expats who no longer want to deal with complicated tax paperwork, a burden that has only gotten worse in recent years. [Source]

I wonder how many of the 3,415 were Kuwaitis since Kuwaiti banks last year decided to start complying with FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) which means any American citizen will have their bank information automatically passed on to the IRS for tax purposes. For Kuwaitis with dual citizenship this meant they would have to start paying taxes on their undisclosed finances.

Thanks Motez

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Kuwait Moves Up in the World Press Freedom Index

Post by Mark


The 2015 edition of the World Press Freedom Index is out and Kuwait is up a spot from last year and still leading in our region.

90 – Kuwait
98 – Lebanon
101 – Israel
115 – Qatar
120 – United Arab Emirates
127 – Oman
156 – Iraq
163 – Bahrain
164 – Saudi Arabia

90th place isn’t Kuwait’s highest ranking, in 2009 Kuwait had come in 60th place. Check out the full index [Here]

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Talabat Sold for KD50,000,000

Post by Mark

Rocket Internet AG (“Rocket”, ISIN DE000A12UKK6, RKET) today announces the signing of the acquisition of 100% of the shares in Talabat, one of the leading players in the attractive online food takeaway market in the Middle East, headquartered in Kuwait, for approximately EUR 150 million. The closing of the transaction is expected in the next few weeks.

Daaaaaaammmnnnn… [Source]

Thanks Ziad

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Will the New Airport Ever be Built?

Post by Mark


A committee in Kuwait’s public works ministry has recommended that all bids to build a new terminal at the country’s international airport be rejected, state news agency KUNA reported on Sunday.

In November, the tender committee for the project said a consortium of Kuwait’s Kharafi National and Turkey’s Limak Holding had submitted the lowest bid for the contract, worth 1.386 billion dinars ($4.78 billion).

But KUNA quoted Kuwait’s minister for electricity, water and public works, Abdulaziz al-Ibrahim, as saying on Sunday that a technical committee in the ministry had recommended all bids be rejected. Ibrahim did not give a reason for the recommendation, but said the committee had studied all aspects of the bidding. [Source]


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5 Dead, 50+ Injured in Bus Crash

Post by Mark

Five people were killed and more than 50 others injured in a horrific crash in Kuwait yesterday, involving a bus carrying Bahraini pilgrims.

Thick fog blanketing most of the region was blamed for the incident which happened when the bus, carrying pilgrims from Bahrain to Karbala in Iraq, was apparently overtaken by a water tanker, leading it to crash into a truck carrying bricks. [Source]

A horrific accident that took place the other day here in Kuwait during the thick fog. [YouTube]


Update: Video has been removed by the uploader

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Kuwait to Start Losing Money Soon

Post by Mark


Kuwait now expects to post its first deficit in two decades by 2017, Finance Minister Anas Al Saleh has reportedly told the Kuwaiti Parliament.
Al Saleh said the recent decline in oil prices, which account for about 90 percent of export revenues, would see Kuwait fall into the red sooner than the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s 2017-18 prediction, according to Kuwait Times. [Source]

The price of oil is currently under $40 and Kuwait needs it to be at $78 to pay all its bills and stay in the black. So can an expert tell me what it would mean for us if Kuwait ends up in the red? Does everything continue as it is while the government digs into its savings until the oil price goes back again? Or would some of the amenities like free health care stop to help cut down costs? Will this cause inflation?

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Kuwait refuse to play against UAE in Asian Cup warm-up

Post by Mark


The Kuwait national football team had to be escorted out of the Robina Stadium in Australia’s Gold Coast by police on Saturday after refusing to play a friendly against the UAE. According to sources, Kuwait took exception to the fact the Asian Cup warm-up game couldn’t be filmed by their technical staff and so abandoned the friendly match in protest. They stayed on the field for an impromptu training session instead. [Source]

Did I read that correctly? Because the game wasn’t going to be filmed the Kuwaiti team decided they didn’t want to play anymore? Kinda reminds me of a story my friend told me about this guy who goes to his gym. The guy always comes in, starts lifting some weight while taking selfies and then once he is done taking selfies he leaves the gym.

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