A Hindu and a Muslim woman donated kidneys to each other’s husbands at a city hospital, stressing that religion didn’t matter when the lives of their loved ones were at stake.
The families from Thane and Bihar were brought together about six months ago by their nephrologist. Absolute strangers till that day, the families worked as a team to overcome all legal tangles and make the transplants happen last week. After the surgeries were done at Saifee Hospital on March 14, also World Kidney Day, Thane residents Nadeem (51) and Nazreen Patel (45) forged a life-long bond with Bihar’s Ramswarth Yadav (53) and his wife Satyadevi (45).
Nadeem, a father of three children, was on dialysis since four years and a transplant had become imminent to arrest his failing health. Ramswarth, who was forced to make Nalasopara his home after his kidney disease, also wanted to undergo a transplant. Both had looked in their families for donors but to no avail. That’s when Dr Hemal Shah, head of nephrology at Saifee Hospital, discussed the option of swap transplant. He said Ramswarth’s blood group (A) matched with Nazreen’s, while Nadeem’s (B) matched with Satyadevi’s. About a month after the first discussion, both families agreed to it.
“Despite dialysis, my father led a painful life for the past two years. The only way out was a transplant. And in matters of life and death, religion doesn’t matter,” said Ramswarth’s son Sanjay, an MCA graduate. “Relatives extended financial help, but nobody was willing to give a kidney. We can never thank Nazreen enough,” he said.
Sanjay said his father also convinced Nadeem to shift his dialysis centre to a Bhuleshwar place that he visited. Over the months, Nazreen and Satyadevi, who often accompanied their husbands to the centre or for paperwork, became friends. “They would discuss their fears and even find solutions to procedural obstructions together,” the son said.
Mumbai is not new to interfaith swap transplants. In fact, the city is home to the country’s first successful swap transplant in 2006, coincidentally involving a Hindu and a Muslim family. “In swap transplants, timing, health, fitness and finances of two families need to run in tandem. Religion is not an issue,” said Dr Shah, adding that the Yadavs patiently waited for Nadeem to heal from a gall bladder surgery that delayed the transplants by a month. On the day of the transplant, surgeons Dr Vinit Shah and Dr J Lalmalani removed the donor kidneys as the recipients were prepared in adjoining operation theatres by Dr Phiroze Soonawala and Dr Aashiq Raval. “Time management is crucial as anxious families often worry about consent being withdrawn at the last minute,” he said. Dr Shah added that swap transplants are a suitable answer to India’s situation, where 1.5 lakh are waiting for kidneys at any point.
Since the Apex Swap Transplant Registry was formed in 2008, 60 transplants have been carried out. “There is more acceptance of swap transplants as it’s a good alternative with a legal backing,” said Dr Jatin Kothari, a trustee of Apex Kidney Foundation.