Doctors at Fortis Hospital Mulund performed a unique Liver transplantation surgery involving a sister donating part of her liver to save her brother’s life. Despite international travel restrictions due to a potential third wave in India, Sunita Gajera prayed to Ganapati Bappa and put in all efforts to travel from the US to make this live organ donation possible. The transplant was essential as 36-year-old Surat resident, Suresh Devani was suffering from complications of Liver Cirrhosis for the past one year, and urgently needed a transplant to survive.
The procedure was successfully conducted by Dr Gaurav Gupta Consultant & Chief Surgeon, Dept. of Liver Transplant and HPB Surgery, Fortis Hospital, Mulund and his team.
Suresh was diagnosed with Liver Cirrhosis in June 2020 and had been in & out of the hospital for the past one year. He had multiple infections and his condition was deteriorating rapidly. The only way of saving and improving the quality of his life was a Liver transplant. However, during the pandemic, the number of organ donations saw a great dip. Suresh’s wife had offered to donate a part of her Liver, but she wasn’t a right match for the transplant. When Suresh’s USA-based sister learnt about his condition, she immediately stepped into volunteer and donate. Due the pandemic, getting air travel permission was a tall task. In fact, for several months international travel was completely disrupted and many countries had stopped flights to India. Moreover, the living organ donation norms in India are strict when it comes to donors from foreign countries. These regulations are in place to avoid organ trafficking. But this was a special case; it was about saving a life.
“This was a one-of-its-kind case as we learnt how love, determination and faith can help overcome all obstacles. When we understood that the patient’s sister Sumita Gajera was willing to donate. She was evaluated and was found to be a good match for her brother. The process to get all the required permissions for the donor to travel, and the donation to happen; the sister was determined to save her brother. This was a unique situation where the donor is an American citizen and the recipient is an Indian. Also, this was the only hope we had to save the patient as Suresh was in a critical condition. Every passing day without a transplant would worsen his condition. We made concerted efforts to get all permissions for Sunita’s travel, despite the lockdown and restrictions. After getting all the permissions for transplant in order, Sunita Gajera was allowed to travel and gift a new life to her brother”, informed Dr Gaurav Gupta.
Teams at Fortis Hospital, Mulund helped Suresh’s sister expedite necessary documentation from the US embassy and the FBI, and to get final approval from the Director of Medical Education and Research (DMER), to enable the transplant procedure.
“We visited multiple hospitals and consulted many doctors, however, there was just one response that the surgery is too risky. When we met with Dr Gaurav Gupta, he explained the procedure in detail and highlighted the risk, but also gave us a glimmer of hope that the surgery could be successful. All staff and doctors, including Dr Swapnil Sharma, were helpful and accomodating. My sister and I are both perfectly fine and living a normal life,” expressed a happy Suresh Devani (patient).
With a big smile and moist eyes, an emotional Sunita Gajera shared, “My brother is very dear to me, and when I learnt that the only way to save him was a transplant, I couldn’t wait any longer. Due to the pandemic-related restrictions, getting permissions was quite hassling, but Fortis helped me with most documentation. I had a strong belief that Ganeshji would hear my plea. I am really very grateful to the team of doctors who helped save my brother’s life. Today, he lives a healthy life and am glad that I could gift him a part of my Liver; our bond has strengthened even more now.” After the transplant, both the donor and the recipient are recovering well.
“This instance teaches us that living continents away does not weaken the relationships. It stands as a golden example of furthering the cause of organ donation. Around 5 lakh people in India need to undergo lifesaving organ transplants each year. Many patients die due to the lack of availability of donors for transplants. Therefore, the need for understanding the significance and impact of organ donation is even more important,” added Dr Gaurav Gupta Consultant & Chief Surgeon, Dept. of Liver Transplant and HPB Surgery, Fortis Hospital, Mulund.