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Mar 4, 2009

People Can Lead Normal Life After Kidney Transplantation

Najuma and her child (second left) with K.G. Hospital Chairman G. Bakthavathsalam (Left), doctors and her family members at the hospital. (Right) Najuma with Chief Nephrologist R. Balasubramaniam a few days after the kidney transplantation in February 2000. Najuma Sameer is so overcome by joy that she cannot speak.
Cradling her six-day-old male child, Akbar, in her arms at K.G. Hospital here, she is unable to narrate this phase of her life: from a 10-year-old girl who underwent a kidney transplantation at the same hospital on February 12, 2000 to February 25, this year, when she was delivered of the child. The message the hospital wants to give is: people can lead a normal life after kidney transplantation. It cannot deny a woman the bliss of marriage and motherhood.

Diagnosed with severe kidney failure, Najuma got a kidney from her father A.M. Sharif. She is said to have led a normal life after the transplantation, until questions arose over the possibility of getting her married. “First, the parents wanted to know whether she could marry,” recalls Chief Nephrologist at the hospital R. Balasubramaniam, who led the team in the kidney transplantation. Later, the husband to-be, Mohammed Sameer, and his family members, met the doctor and others at the hospital to get their doubts clarified.

The hospital got people who had already undergone transplantation to talk to Mr. Sameer. Convinced that Najuma can lead a normal life, Mr. Sameer married her on January 13, 2008. “This was very heartening to us because we knew of girls not getting married because they had kidney problems, though they had also been cured of these,” says Dr. Balasubramaniam.Then came the next question: can she have a child? Dr. Balasubramaniam and the others had explained to the family members that she could have a child, but would need extra attention bestowed on her during pregnancy because of the transplanted kidney.

So, the family moved out of Thiruvananthapuram to stay for two months in Coimbatore. The foetus was also monitored for any congenital malformation. “It (the case of Najuma) is very satisfying for us,” says Chief Obstetrician and Gynaecologist Chandrakala Maran. “This is the maximum rehabilitation we could have done to a girl who could otherwise have died 10 years ago,” says Dr. Balasubramaniam. Chairman of the hospital G. Bakthavathsalam says: “The whole case speaks about how the right attitude towards managing and understanding a disease can help the patient lead a normal life”.

The father who persevered and donated the kidney, the doctor who operated on the girl and the man who later married her symbolise this attitude, observes Dr. Bakthavathsalam. Mr. Sharif says his sister asked him not donate his kidney as she feared he could die. “After seeing how my daughter has progressed, my sister is now prepared to donate a kidney to save a life,” he says. Mr. Sharif and his wife, Najeeba, say that their daughter’s life has become a model in the place where they all lived in Thiruvananthapuram. “Now, people understand that kidney transplantation patients are capable of leading a normal life,” they say.

Savouring every moment with his child, Mr. Sameer says: “No man should hesitate to marry a girl who has a donor’s kidney”. Dr. Balasubramaniam says the only price Ms. Najuma has to pay for the kidney problem is that she cannot breastfeed the child. The cyclosporin drug can get into the child through the mother’s milk and affect its kidneys. “But, the entire family understood this. The long-term joy of having the child helped them reconcile to it,” he says.

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