ONE HAPPY FAMILY: (From left): Kalpana, H.K. Bhanja, Mohammad Sayeed and Saira Banu in the Bypass hospital. Picture by Bishwarup Dutta
Amity on the surgery table has given a Hindu lawyer and a Muslim grocer a fresh lease of life and brought their families together.
The wives of the two breadwinners from Orissa donated their kidneys to each other’s husbands. The cross-donor transplants were carried out in a Calcutta hospital.
H.K. Bhanja and Mohammad Sayeed were suffering from irreversible kidney disorders and could have been on dialysis for the rest of their lives. They can return to a near-normal lifestyle, thanks to Kalpana and Saira Banu.
“Bhanja came to me in August with end-stage renal failure because of polycystic kidney disease and badly needed a transplant. His blood group was A, while his wife’s was B, so she couldn’t donate. With Sayeed and his wife, the blood groups were just the reverse,” said Deepak S. Ray, the chief nephrologist and head (renal transplant programme) of Manjulaben Kidney Hospital.
When the doctor suggested that Kalpana donate her kidney to Sayeed and Saira Banu to Bhanja, both the couples readily agreed.
The twin transplant surgeries were carried out at the Mukundapur hospital, off the EM Bypass, on January 23 last year, and the two sets of donors and recipients are now on the road to recovery.
Only parents, siblings, children and spouses can legally donate kidneys, and that too only if the blood group of donor and recipient match. Any unrelated transplant has to be by mutual consent, without any monetary transaction and must be cleared by the ethics committee of the state health department.
“This is the third set of cross-donor kidney transplantation we have performed at the hospital, but the first instance where two families from different religions have bailed each other out. By such transplants we can create an increasing organ pool and curb illegal organ rackets,” Ray stressed.
Was it a difficult choice for the two families? “Not at all,” said Sayeed. “We live in perfect religious harmony in our village near Cuttack. I can now get back to my grocery store, which is my sole source of income,” added the father of five.
The 48-year-old lawyer from Balasore felt equally buoyed by the fact that he can resume his practice and support the educational expenses of his son and two daughters.
“We are now one family and no physical distance can keep us apart. Our children will study and play together and keep this wonderful friendship going,” Bhanja said.