A friend in need is a friend indeed – this old saying came true when Prasanna Gopinath came forward to help his friend Preeti (name changed) and gave her a new lease of life. The 34-year-old from Chennai donated a part of his liver to Preeti after her organ was failed due to cirrhosis.
Years ago, Prasanna’s family lived with 44-year-old Preeti’s family as a housemate in the UK and they became friends. He moved back to India 10 years ago. Preeti and her family also came back a few months later. They stayed in touch through social media, and this is where they learnt about Preeti’s deteriorating health.
“We were able to know about Preeti’s ailment and help her in the time of need only through social media,” said Nirmiti, Prasanna’s wife.
Prasanna and his family learnt that Preeti was looking for a liver donor. Though her family members had undergone tests as potential donors, they could not quality due to various medical reasons. This is when Prasanna and his wife came forward, and he cleared all the required tests.
“There was no two ways about this; we just knew this was the correct thing to do. In accordance with law, we did undergo certain personal interviews and submitted documents about our acquaintance,” added Nirmiti.
The surgery was successfully conducted at Max Super Speciality Hospital in Delhi on July 21, 2017. While Prasanna has already been discharged, Preeti is under medication. “We are happy we could help Preeti and the family,” said Nirmiti.
“Both, the donor and the recipient are doing fine. Prasanna has been discharged while the recipient will be discharged in about seven days,”said Dr Subhash Gupta, Chairperson, Liver surgeon and Biliary Sciences, Max Super Speciality Hospital, New Delhi.”
Prasanna urged more people to come forward and donate their organs. “A liver donor is almost back to normal within seven to 10 days of the procedure. Certain restrictions such as not lifting heavy weights have to be followed, and that’s about it. A lot of people shy away from donating organs because of lack of awareness. We just wish this inspires at least a few people to come forward and help people through live donations. We also need to pledge our organs after death,” he said.
Live liver donations in India are generally accepted among the family and close relatives. And hence, it is very important, according to the law to establish the connection among families if the donor and recipient are not related.
“It is very uncommon and truly appreciable for a friend to come forward and help the other,” added Dr Gupta. He said by law, it became easy for these families to prove their relation given their long association.
“These families lived together in UK when they were studying in college. Given their long family association, we considered and approved this case. Such friends are really hard to find,” he said.
“Live liver donations are allowed by law. The government committee clears cases among friends or close acquaintances only after thorough interrogation and submission of certain documents,” said Dr Ravi Mohanka, liver transplant surgeon at Global Hospital and visiting liver transplant surgeon at KEM Hospital, Mumbai.
Who can be a living liver donor?
A living donor is a close family member defined as a ‘near relative’ in the Transplantation of Human Organs (THO) Act. This is defined as spouse, parents, siblings, grandparents, and children of the recipient. Any of these can be a donor as long as they are healthy and pass all their tests and fulfil the requirements of the law.
Donor’s blood group compatiblity with the recipient
A family member (wife, husband, mother, father, brother, sister, son, daughter, grandfather, grandmother, grandson, granddaughter) or close relative of the patient
Family friends, well-wishers, staff or neighbours are not accepted as donors
Age group: 18-55 years
A person should not be overweight as people who are overweight may have a fatty liver
The donor’s liver should be large enough to provide adequate volume for the recipient (patient) as well as for the donor
The donor should be in good overall physical and mental health, undergo a thorough medical and psychological evaluation, and fully understand the risks of surgery and only then volunteer for donation
What procedures need to be followed if a live donor is a friend?
The families are asked to submit documents of association and a thorough checking of identity as well as proofs of association. However, every case will be handled differently.
In Prasanna Gopinath’s case, the following documents were submitted:
- Proof of residence in UK
- Proof of university (education)
- Personal identification such as passports
- IT returns
- Work profile details
- Supporting photographs of time that the families spent together
- Social media communication over the years
- Personal interviews of both families is also videographed as proof