Srijani Halder before her liver transplant and (right) with mother Babita at their Baguiati home after surgery. (Sanat Kumar Sinha)
A St. Xavier’s College student who had slipped into a coma following liver failure is on the path to recovery after her friends raised Rs 18 lakh in three days using Facebook for a transplant that her mother made possible by donating a part of her own liver.
Srijani Halder never had a liver problem in the 20 years of her life but a sudden bout of jaundice terminally damaged the organ.
The second-year economics honours student was suffering from jaundice from the third week of March and her doctor advised that she could write the fourth semester examination because her bilirubin count came down by the end of April.
Srijani could complete just three of the four honours papers before her bilirubin shot up again from 5 to 12, confining her to bed.
By mid-May, the count reached 19 requiring her to be hospitalised — first at a nursing home and then at Apollo Gleneagles Hospitals.
Conservative treatment with intravenous drips, Vitamin K supplements and other medicines was not working and on the morning of May 27, doctors told her parents that she had slipped into a coma. A quick transplant was her only hope.
Hope came in form of mother Babita, a 46-year-old homemaker. “I didn’t know that the liver regenerates to its original size after donation of a portion of it. Frankly I did not care. I just wanted to save my daughter and feel blessed that I could,” she told Metro on July 9 (Wednesday) after the surgery.
Srijani’s bilirubin count is now 0.7, well within the normal range of 1.
Before the operation, the challenge for father Anjan, who works with a nationalised bank, was to arrange Rs 22 lakh in three days.
He was Rs 18 lakh short.
This is when Srijani’s friends from college burst into the scene.
A classmate from St. Xavier’s, Debmallya Chanda, posted on Facebook a brief history of the girl’s ailment and asked everyone to “spread the news around you and raise as much funds as possible”.
“Please unite guys to save her life. We do not want to lose our friend,” it said.
Classmates Rupsa Basak, Abhishek Kabiraj and many more posted similar posts. Even seniors Subhradeep Das and the like got involved.
“The idea was to fan out and reach new groups of people and it worked for us. As funds started coming from day one itself, we got enthused and carried on sharing the posts with renewed vigour,” said Subhradeep.
Rupsa, whose brother is a gynaecologist at Apollo Gleneagles Hospitals, kept gathering information about the condition of Srijani and kept her parents informed while keeping tabs on the funds.
The hard work paid off in the end. Funds poured in from across the country as well as from Indian professionals settled abroad and some spiritual institutions, said Subhradeep.
Srijani was in a coma and then semiconscious when the campaign on Facebook was in full flow.
“I have been studying about this acute liver failure and can gather now that I had been in a coma when everyone was working so hard to raise funds for my treatment,” she said.
She is back on her feet now but must wait a few months more before she can venture out of home.
She knows now that 65 per cent of her mother’s liver, about 900gram, had been transplanted.
“In acute liver failure, the degeneration happens suddenly and every minute before the transplant is done becomes crucial for the patient. Cases of cirrhosis of liver on the other hand gives one a lot of time to plan the surgeries,” said hepatobility-pancreatic surgeon of Apollo Hospitals, Chennai, Anand K. Khakhar.
He flew down from Chennai with a team of doctors to perform the operations on mother and daughter, along with intensivist Indrajeet Tiwary of Calcutta, at Apollo Gleneagles Hospitals.
Gastroenterologist Mahesh K. Goenka, under whom Srijani, had been admitted said a lot more transplants could take place if there was awareness that the donor does not face any long-term problems after transplant because the liver grows right back to its original size.