Organ donations: Two siblings with renal failure struggling for life

Pakistan has expertise and technical facilities to carry out organ transplants but there are few donors, says doctor.

Sehrish Wasif February 24, 2013
Parents desperately seek donors.


Saleem and his wife are desperately looking for donors to save the lives of their two children, both of whom are suffering from renal failure.

Their son, Hanan, 20, who is currently on dialysis, urgently needs a kidney transplant, but the parents have not been unable to arrange one.

Meanwhile, their daughter Maha*,14, had a kidney transplant last year, which cost them over Rs.1.5 million, but it was not successful and now she is having complications.

“We have already lost our elder daughter, Mariam, who was just 16 and had renal failure. She needed a kidney transplant but we failed to find a donor, and she passed away recently,” said Saleem with a grim face, while talking to The Express Tribune.

The family, which hails from Bahawalpur, has been living in Islamabad for the last five years.

“Only Allah knows how much we struggled and continue to struggle to save the lives of our children. We have almost shunned everything. We do not celebrate any occasion or meet people. All we do is looking for people who could donate a kidney to my son and save his life. It is very painful to see him undergo dialysis every week,” he said.

Saleem said that he used to have his own business, but he closed it so he would have more time to care for his children. Hanan, a tenth-grade student, is having problems continuing his studies due to his condition, he said.

“I have spent all that I had, but still, I’m trying to arrange money to save my children’s lives. Every morning we wake up hoping that today is the day somebody will donate a kidney to my son,” he said.

Dr Saeed Akhtar, director of Transplant Surgery at Shifa International Hospital (SIH) and chief executive officer of the Pakistan Kidney Institute (PKI), is treating the children. He said the children have a family history of polycystic kidney disease.

According to Dr Akhtar, dialysis is not a permanent solution for Hanan, and his life depends on getting a kidney transplant.

He said that deceased-donor transplantation can give new life to ten people, as all the organs — two kidneys, two lungs, two corneas, a heart, a liver, pancreas and intestines, but in Pakistan this trend is very low. “It is because people consider it ‘un-Islamic’.”

“The organs of people who are brain dead in hospital can be transplanted to those who badly need them,” he said.

He said that Pakistan has almost all the expertise and technical facilities to carry out successful organ transplants, but there are few donors.

Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC) Rawalpindi Commandant Prof Maj-Gen Shahab Naqvi said that there are around 2,500 people admitted to AFIC who need heart transplants but there was practically no person ready to donate their heart in the event of their death.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 24th, 2013.


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