On the World Kidney Day (March 11, 2021) today, we talk to two senior citizens who donated one of their kidneys to save the life of a loved one
When 77-year-old Moti Lalwani got to know that his wife, Padma, was suffering from Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD), the first thing the former Tata Trombay Thermal Power in-charge (operations) did was to tell the doctor of his willingness to donate one of his kidneys to save her life. This was in 2013. PKD is an inherited disorder in which clusters of cysts develop in the kidneys, causing them to enlarge and lose function over time.
“Considerng my age, the doctors were sceptical, but I insisted. I requested them to check the condition of my kidneys before outrightly refusing my plea. The doctors agreed, and after a series of tests found that both my kidneys were in healthy state,” says Lalwani, now 84, and living in Atlanta, USA. Luckily, the blood group of the couple matched too, a rare phenomenon.
But there was a little hiccup. “Normally, there is only one vent in a kidney but in my case, there were two. Doctors were sceptical to operate upon me as it could lead to complications,” recalls Lalwani. Then an acquaintance suggested they consult Dr Bhupendra Gandhi at the Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai, which Lalwanis did.
A few days later, the couple was operated upon. While Lalwani was discharged after a week of remaining under observation, his wife got home in a healthy state a month later. “Over the next six years, she remained in perfect health but then, cysts appeared in her liver. I once again volunteered to donate my liver but despite all efforts, we lost her in 2019,” Lalwani reminisces.
The octogenarian, who has recently defeated Covid-19, is a part of the walkathon organised by Amar Gandhi Foundation which took place virtually, keeping Covid-19 restrictions in mind on the World Kidney Day today (March 11). “I walk for an hour every day to remain fit, up to 10,000 steps a day,” he says.
Lalwani is not the only senior citizen to have donated his kidney to save the life of a family member and also be a part of the walkathon. Mumbai-based 70-year-old Vinaya Halady donated one of her kidneys to her son around two years back.
“In our case, the wait for the donation stretched over to one-and-a-half decade as our blood groups are different. I started undergoing dialysis at 29, in 2003. I had registered for a cadaver. Unfortunately, when my turn came I tested for Hepatitis C virus, which didn’t have a reliable treatment back then so a transplant could not be done. I got treated for Hepatitis C in 2018, and by this time different blood groups transplant had also become a reality,” says Halady’s son Samir, 47. Samir underwent kidney transplant in June 2019, after being on dialysis for 17 long years.
One of the main reasons Halady says she was able to donate the kidney was due to her keeping fit. “I have always been walking from the beginning, since my diabetes was borderline, I walked for more than an hour daily keep my blood sugar under control. I still walk for an hour. My being fit helped me donate a kidney to my son, and save his life,” says the 72-year-old former teacher.
“Though he tried his best to not let me or his father know of his suffering, it was writ large on his face whenever he returned after a dialysis session,” says Halady, adding that now of course both she and Samiir are doing perfectly fine.