Happy ending: Kenyan to fly back with Indian kidney

After waiting for 18 months for a kidney transplant, a 33-year-old Kenyan woman got a new lease of life.

In the first case in the country of an international kidney swap transplant between two Kenyans and a Rajasthani couple, two lives were saved.

“I am happy and perfectly fine after the transplant,” said Esther Githinji, who will fly back to Kenya on Saturday.
Aarif Khokar, 35, from Rajasthan received a kidney from Esther’s 34-year-old sister Ann. Esther, in turn, got a kidney from Aarif’s wife.

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“This great country has given me a second lease of life. I was worried initially, but the doctors have been very positive.

Till the procedure was complete, they kept talking to me and ensured that the transplant went smoothly,” added Esther.

She and Ann and the Indian couple — Aarif and Sabira Khokar — had been running from pillar to post to obtain the government’s permission for the transplant.

On March 14, dna’s report ‘Unending wait for kidney, and life’ highlighted  how the country’s laws were posing a hurdle to India’s first international organ swap surgery.

Last year, Aarif and Sabira, 30, met the Kenyan siblings as well as their mother, Agnes, 60, at a suburban dialysis centre. Esther was diagnosed with chronic renal failure in 2003 but her body rejected Agnes’s kidney. Although Ann was a prospective donor, her kidney could not be used.

“But Sabira’s kidney was a perfect match for Esther. Being the first such kidney swap transplant we faced problems, but the end has been good,” said Dr Jatin Kothari, nephrologist at Hinduja Hospital.

Sabira could donate a kidney to Aarif, who was diagnosed with the same condition as Esther a year ago. It soon became clear that two lives could be saved through a swap transplant.

But trying to obtain permission was difficult. Government agencies kept quoting complex laws on transplant surgeries, saying there was no legal provision to permit such a swap.

“Both parties had the patience and perseverance to get the permission without giving up on the case,” Kothari said.

Things began to look up when the Rajasthan government issued a no-objection certificate for the procedure on March 18. On April 10, the duo underwent the transplant.

Ann donated a kidney to Aarif at BSES Hospital in Andheri and Sabira did the same for Esther at Hinduja hospital. Both patients are doing well.

“My husband is doing well. We have built a good bond with the Kenyan family over the past few months,” said Sabira.-dnaindia.com

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