At SIUT the dead help the living

Shehnaz: A gift of life from the Netherlands
Shehnaz: A gift of life from the Netherlands

By Zubeida Mustafa

The story begins five thousand miles away in the Dutch city of Maastricht. In mid-January a 14-year old girl slips into a coma and dies due to a ruptured cerebral aneurysm. Her grief-stricken parents decide to gift her organs to the dying. Thus they would have the satisfaction of knowing that a part of their child has not died.

That is how the central registry of the Eurotransplant Foundation in Lieden gets an AB+ blood group donor.

It is noon in Karachi. At the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT) in the Civil Hospital there is a call for the director, Dr Adibul Hasan Rizvi, from Dr Ganke Kootstra of the University of Maastricht. There is a cadaveric kidney available. Does Karachi have an endstage renal failure patient who needs the organ and has the matching tissue type?

Thus begins the miracle for Shehnaz, a young woman of 24 and a resident of New Karachi. She has been haunted by the spectre of death for the last four months since her kidneys stopped working. She has survived with the help of dialysis — a procedure in which the function of cleansing the impurities in the blood is performed by a machine to which the patient’s artery is hooked. But life has been robbed of all joy. Since October Shehnaz has had to come to the Institute thrice a week for a four-hour dialysis session. Then too, she feels fit for only a day, after which the nausea returns. She also gets breathless. Continue reading “At SIUT the dead help the living”