Sunday, September 16, 2012

No stranger bond - 7

(This is the seventh part of a short story No stranger bond. You can find the full story here.)

"Hello Shuja sa'ab. Hello Mrs. Subramanyam. How are you? Hello Madhu. Hello Masih. How are you?" Dr. Bhalla smiled.

Shuja and Sharada were quiet. Masih and Madhu managed a smile.

All four of them were really nervous.

Dr. Bhalla began, "I wanted to share something with you."

"Yeah, get the hell out of here, you two!" Shuja expected Dr. Bhalla to say.

Dr. Bhalla continued, "I am sure by now all of you know that a kidney transplant offers the best quality of life in patients with kidney failure. Whatever you do, dialysis simply cannot match the benefits of a transplant. Medically and even personally as well. Even in terms of longevity, transplants offer the opportunity to live much longer lives compared to dialysis."

"Now, if you remember we had taken samples of your blood when you joined us and we took samples of your relatives' blood as well. We do that as a protocol at this hospital. We immediately check on the possibility of a live related donor transplant and then plan accordingly. However, I am sorry to say that  your relatives are a poor match for both of you."

"We have already placed your names on the cadaver transplant list16. However, the waiting list for a cadaver transplant is fairly large and the number of cases we get suitable to be cadaveric donors too low to offer a realistic chance for you to get a kidney using this route."

"Now, there has been an interesting development recently. There is a software that has been developed in the US where they match different blood samples to look for possible matches. So, what this means is you feed in the data of blood samples of a large number of people who could be potential donors and potential recipients and the software tries to match these samples."

"What this does is - it opens up a large number of possibilities. For example, let's say, a person who needs a kidney has a relative whose blood does not match the patient for a transplant. But it matches some other patient's sample. And if that patient's relative's blood does not match that patient but matches the first patient's, then you have the possibility of doing a swap transplant. That is both the relatives donate their kidney to the other patient. That way both the patients get a kidney and there is no money exchanged and no favor felt either."

"You understand this, up to now?"

Shuja had no clue about what the doctor was saying. The rest understood.

"So now, coming to the interesting part." Dr. Bhalla continued. "Our hospital has been one of the fortunate few in the country to be able to get this software. It did cost us quite a packet but we thought a lot of people could benefit and we finally got it a couple of months back."

"We have painstakingly entered all our patients' data into the software. A few days back, this exercise was completed and guess what? We found two swap possibilities among our patients and their families. One of those possibilities is if Masih, you donate your kidney to Mrs. Subramanyam and Madhu, if Bala donates his kidney to Shuja sa'ab!"

There was a stunned silence in the room. No one could believe what they had just heard.

"Think about it, all of you. There is no hurry."

"Sure, Dr. Bhalla", Madhu responded. They all got up and left the room. They got into their respective cars and left the hospital.

There was complete silence on the way home. No one uttered a word.

Who would have thought that this match would ever happen? Why would this happen? Would the bickering couple make peace in order to live a normal life? Ah, the delicious ironies of life!


16 - Many times, especially after an accident or other shock to the body, a person can become 'brain dead'. This means that the brain is irreversibly dead and the heart and other organs are kept alive by artificial means (a ventilator). Once this artificial support is removed, the heart and other organs would also stop working. So, if the organs are removed before withdrawing the artificial support, these organs can be used to potential recipients like dialysis patients who could get a new lease of life. This kind of transplant is called a cadaveric transplant and many hospitals that have a cadaveric transplant program have a waiting list where people are registered and whenever an organ becomes available through this means, the person at the top of the waiting list gets the organ.

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