Mumbai: Jeevan and Sheetal Desai (both 36) from Powai met Sachidanand (48) and Preeti Chaubey (39) from Boisar during a session organised by Narmada Kidney Foundation, where they are registered. Jeevan was suffering from renal problems for two years and needed a kidney, as did Preeti. In a rare exchange, the Boisar man gave a kidney to the Powai man while the latter’s wife donated one to the Boisar woman.

Sachidanand Chaubey (second from the right) donated a kidney to Jeevan Desai. Sheetal Desai (second from left) donated a kidney to Preeti Chaubey.

The swapping of kidneys took place on Tuesday at Nanavati hospital, Vile Parle. The operation was performed by noted nephrologists Dr Bharat Shah and Dr Prashant Rajput. While both recipients are showing positive signs post surgery, they are under observation in the ICCU. The donors have been shifted to special wards on the third floor of the hospital.

Speaking to the reporter, Dr Bharat Shah, founder of Narmada Kidney Foundation, applauded the act of Sachidanand, who set a creditable precedent. “He (Sachidanand) is of ‘O’ blood group and he could have easily donated his kidney to his wife Preeti, who is of ‘B’ blood group. Instead, Sachidanand decided to offer his kidney to Jeevan, who needed an ‘O’ group donor. And Sheetal, who is of ‘B’ blood group, donated her kidney to Preeti. Such swapping seldom happens.”

Shah added, “The problem arises when patients fail to get a donor from within their families and have to register for a cadaver transplant. On an average, around 3,500 kidney transplants are carried out in India annually. This is hardly one per cent of the actual number of kidney failure cases reported, and a larger number of people are forced to continue living on dialysis.”

Shah says the numbers can change, provided the government makes the processes hassle-free. Currently, donors and recipients have to endure numerous documentations and have to seek approval of various medical bodies before the surgery. If these procedural aspects were made less cumbersome, many would benefit. In this particular case, the couples had met in April 2012, while the completion of formalities and securing of approval happened just a few days ago.

New lease on life

Speaking from her hospital bed after the surgery, Sheetal said, “We are grateful to the Chaubey family for considering our situation and helping us out. Jeevan went through a lot in the last two years. But he endured everything with a brave smile. He was in pain, he had to give up his job and underwent over 300 dialysis sessions.”

Sheetal — who like her husband is an instrumentation engineer — reminisced that things were moving smoothly for them and their two school going kids until two years ago, when during a routine medical check-up it was revealed that Jeevan had high blood pressure (180/90), his serum creatinine level was as high as 13 mg/dl (normal range is about 1.2) and both his kidneys had shrunk to below normal sizes (9 to 11 cm). Doctors advised him to undergo dialysis and later recommended a kidney transplant. Since then he was receiving treatment from Dr Shah and was also registered with Narmada Kidney Foundation after the couple failed to find a suitable donor within their families.

Jeevan continued to work till a year later, but slowly his health started to fail. He became weak, his skin pallor changed and he even started losing hair. Jeevan even tried to take up consultancy work but did not get a positive response. Sheetal, who stood by him, took him to various institutes, including Global hospital at Hyderabad where they registered him for cadaver transplant. But even after four months, nothing happened.

Fresh start

Lying on the adjacent bed at Nanavati hospital was Sachidanand, a vegetable vendor, who earns around Rs 200 a day. A father of three college-going kids, Sachidanand lives in a joint family at Boisar. When asked how he agreed to give his kidney to Jeevan instead of his wife, he said, “The credit should go to my children, who encouraged me to donate to Jeevan, who was in dire need of an ‘O’ group kidney. Luckily, I could meet that requirement.”

Sachidanand said his wife developed renal problems a year ago. Soon after she underwent a spinal surgery. Her creatinine and haemoglobin levels were fluctuating and subsequently she was put on dialysis. After this, she was advised a transplant.

Speaking to the media person, Dr Prashant Rajput, who was a part of the surgery team, said, “The recipients are showing positive signs of kidney functioning following their surgeries. They will be kept under observation for the next few days and will require regular check-up and medication.”

Sachidanand is now concerned about the post-operative medical care Preeti would need for the rest of her life. But before we left, he said, “Sab uparwala ka khel hai, insaniyat se badkar koi dharam nahin (Everything is decided by God, there is no religion greater than humanity).”

4 L

Approx number of people who develop end-stage kidney disease in the country annually

Push pause

Waiting list for transplants with Narmada Kidney Foundation on the basis of blood groups:

- ‘O’ group - 45

- ‘A’ group - 39

-  ‘B’ group - 34


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