December 8, 2009

INDIA: Mom, 74, gifts kidney to daughter

. MUMBAI, Maharashtra / The Times of India / December 8, 2009 By Malathy Iyer, Times News Network "I believe I have done a good deed," beams Thane resident Shailaja Joshi. She has reason to feel special. At 74 years and seven months, she could well be among the oldest organ donors in the country. Unable to watch the plight of her first-born daughter struggling with kidney disease for the past two years, Joshi last week donated one of her kidneys to her ``child''. ``I can very well manage with one kidney,'' she adds. The dual operation took place on November 30 at Jaslok Hospital, Peddar Road, with Joshi getting discharged after four days. Her daughter, 53-year-old Vijaya Bapat, is well and will be discharged soon. "Joshi's kidneys were exceptionally good for her age. Her overall health, too, was good. So, after initial reservations, we agreed to let her donate a kidney to her daughter," says nephrologist Rushi Desphande. SMILES ARE BACK: Vijaya Bapat (53), left, with her mother Shailaja Joshi and Dr. Rushi Deshpande at Jaslok Hospital. Stating that it is credible that Joshi could donate an organ at almost 75 years of age, Dr V K Hase, head of the nephrology department, KEM Hospital, Parel, says, "The guidelines state that we can use organs of persons up to 70 years of age as donors for transplants. But I am sure the doctors must have done all the tests before expanding the donor criteria margin." With longevity and the overall health of Indians improving, there is a small batch of grandparents who are turning donors for their less fortunate family members. A couple of years ago, Ghatkopar resident Lalji Patel, at 72 years of age, donated a kidney to his then eight-year-old grandson Nishit at Lilavati Hospital. Dr Sandeep Guleria, transplant surgeon of the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi, and secretary of the Indian Society for Organ Transplantation, says several senior citizens have donated kidneys. "It's not the chronological age of the person, but the condition of the donor's kidneys that are important," he says. The trend of 70-plus donors is also being reported elsewhere in the world. On Monday, Thane resident Bapat, with surgical mask in place, spoke about the unique "gift". "I was diagnosed with bilateral shrunken kidneys two years back. My creatinine (a serum whose high levels in blood indicate kidney impairment) levels had periodically spiked to 6 and 7.5," she says. She was advised a kidney transplant and her husband Anand Bapat was ready to donate a kidney. "But as our blood groups are different, he couldn't donate." Sensing her dismay, her mother Shailaja volunteered. "My mother kept telling me over the last two years that she would donate her kidney for me, but I didn't want it that way," says Bapat. She thought of signing up for a cadaver donation. But her mother didn't want her to wait for a cadaver (brain-dead) donor as "the wait could be a long one". "My mother's a strong person. No words can match my gratitude for the gift she gave me," adds Bapat. It was after much cajoling from the mother-daughter duo that the Jaslok Hospital team of Dr Deshpande and transplant surgeon Dr K Desai decided to evaluate Joshi for the operation. "I was put through 12 tests or more before the doctors were satisfied that I could indeed donate my kidney," says Joshi. Deshpande says that his idea was to show that older donors who are healthy could be a good option given the scarcity of donors in India. "If the kidney is good, then this is a way of increasing the donor pool. After all, it's the biological age and not the chronolgical age of the donor that should be looked at," he adds. But a senior doctor, who didn't want to be named, says grandparents should be exception rather than the rule. "Many a times, they are economically dependent on their family members. There's no way of establishing if they were emotionally coerced into donating the organ." [rc] Copyright © 2009 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd.