Fathers & Sons

In 2010, I was young, dreaming big and like any 21-year old, aiming to reach greater heights in my professional career and make my parents proud. My family was leading an ordinary life in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, my hometown. My father was employed with Railways and my mother a housewife. My younger brother was studying in college. I was in Dehradun preparing for my CAT exam. Long days were full of coaching classes, books, equations, mathematical problems, and their solutions.

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I was jolted out of this world with one phone call.

I was studying in my hostel room when I received a call from my mother that changed my world. My mother informed me that my father was severely ill and was taken to LNM Railways hospital in Gorakhpur. Immediately, I booked my tickets and left for Gorakhpur to be with my father. Being the elder child, it automatically came to me to stand up to my duties, and I became more responsible overnight.

After looking at my father’s symptoms, Doctors informed us that he might have some issues with his liver function and referred him to SGPGI Hospital in Lucknow for further investigation and treatment. Our world came crashing down, and my family, my mother, and everyone at home got worried for him. All I could think of was to turn this around for all of them and once again have a happy family life. Further investigations and tests were done at SGPGI Lucknow, and my father was diagnosed with chronic liver disease caused by Hepatitis C infection. Within few days of discovering the first symptoms, we were sitting in a hospital in another city and were informed that my father will have to undergo an urgent liver transplant to save his life.

Liver transplant, or any organ transplant was a complete alien concept to me and my family. With no information at all about organ failure, organ donation and organ transplant, and lack of any medical education background whatsoever, we all were left dumbstruck with fear. We were afraid about my father’s well-being and imagined the worst that could happen if an action is not taken immediately. Generally, it is the moments like these when you know who your well-wishers are. Luckily, my extended family and relatives gave us huge support in these testing times.

After proper consultation with many doctors, we decided to follow their advice and go for a liver transplant for my father. Now, we had to face two big obstacles in front of us and find solutions for it. There were days when each morning threw a new set of challenge at us and we had to make ends meet to survive them. First big obstacle was to find a liver donor for my father, and second was the cost of the transplant surgery. For a family like ours, with limited resources, the money required to undergo a liver transplant was out of our pocket. With an estimated cost of rupees 25 lakhs required for the surgery, we were left helpless and worried.

To find a solution to this problem, I met several doctors in railway hospital in Gorakhpur. After running from one doctor to another, consulting one well-wisher to other, going from pillar to post, I was advised to meet Mahant Aditya Nath. He helped us in getting a referral from railway hospital to ILBS hospital in Delhi for the best possible treatment of my father. At ILBS hospital in Delhi, we met doctors and were informed that all the expenses related to the surgery will be sanctioned through railway hospital. So, one problem was resolved to a large extent and all thoughts were fixed on how to get a liver for transplant.

We were informed by doctors of our options to go for either a living organ donation or wait for a liver donated after death. We all talk about organ donation a lot these days but years ago, no one knew about it. And lack of awareness led to a lot of taboos and myths associated with organ donation, and thus negligible number of deceased organ donation happening in the country. Therefore, living organ donation was our only option to save my father. Eventually, the discussion started in the family on who will donate a part of their liver to give life to my father.

My mother came forward, but her health condition did not allow her. My younger brother was less than 18 and thus, I was the only option left in the family. We told our doctors that I will donate my liver to my father. After initial hesitation on part of my family and relatives, we did come to terms that I was the only option and should be allowed to go ahead with it. In a way, I am thankful to my family and relatives who supported my decision and stood like a rock behind me.

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A set of tests were run to find out if I am fit enough to donate and whether I was a good match for my father. Before every test, all of us used to pray to God to give us positive results. Our only hope to save my father was to have a perfect cross match of him and me. There were moments when all of us used to be scared and counted hours sitting outside my father’s room in hospital, hoping for a miracle. I will not lie by saying that I was not afraid for myself, my health, and my future life, as I was literally too scared like any other human being. I used to sit and think about it, for as long as possible, but love of the family makes one stronger and I was firm with my decision.

Then, one day, doctors introduced me to a donor who had donated liver to a family member. Meeting other such donors who happily donated a part of their liver to their loved ones and the patients who got transplants done, gave me huge confidence. I met some more donors, patients, their relatives, and discussed their post-donation journey. They looked fine and healthy without any visible traces of what they have gone through. I had long discussions with my Doctors about the health condition of my father, liver transplant surgery, post-surgery condition of my father, possible consequences of liver donation on my health and other such queries. I am thankful to my doctors in ILBS hospital in Delhi, who not only addressed all my questions very patiently but also gave me huge confidence to become an organ donor and donate a part of my liver to save my father.
Finally, the day of the surgery arrived, and we were wheeled into the operation theatre. I remember taking a good look at my family members, meeting my father before the surgery, and feeling that anxiety on their faces. At that moment, I thought, I must be strong for all of them and not give up and come out as a warrior for my father and my family.

Thus, the surgery was done, and I donated a part of my liver to my father. Even though I was scared initially, after all it was the first surgery of my life, I came out of the operation theatre content that I was able to help my father and fulfil my duties as his elder son.
Post-surgery, when I met my father, that was one of the happiest days of life. Here we were, both happy and healthy, giving smiles to each other and enquiring about each other’s post-surgery pain. For the first time, that pain seemed beautiful as there was a feeling of saving my father and seeing him well after the surgery. We were not worried about hanging between life and death, after a long time since the disease was diagnosed. Though, we had a long journey to look forward to healing completely after surgery, both my father and I felt stronger and like a warrior. After 7 days of being kept under observation, I was finally discharged and sent back home. We had rented an apartment in Delhi and all the family members used to take turns to look after my father in the hospital. My father was kept under observation for about a month in the hospital itself, before being discharged.

Since then, both me and my father are in good health and living our lives happily. Fortunately, there were no further post-surgery complications for him, and he has been as healthy as he was before the whole fiasco. I would like to sincerely thank my doctors who guided us in this complete journey and told us about possible organ donation. Had it not been for them, we would not have been making beautiful memories with my father all these years. As a donor, I did not see any change in me, my body, or my capabilities. My liver regenerated in few weeks back to its normal size as if nothing had happened. I was back to leading a healthy and happy life with my family. Our lives became normal as we had always dreamt.

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Years down the line, in 2017, I got married and now I am a happy father to the cutest boy in the world. Before marriage, I had informed my wife about my liver donation and she was so happy to know about my good deed. Maybe, this good action helped me earn some brownie points and bettered my chances at the alliance!

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My father retired from railways and is as healthy as possible. My mother is busy taking care of everyone in the family. My younger brother has started working and earns well for himself. Now, I have happy parents, an understanding wife, a happy family, and a happy life, all that I had dreamt of.

 

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Professionally, I could not go back to my studies owing to many responsibilities. Doctors at ILBS hospital in Delhi gave an offer to join the team and help them in coordinating these transplants along with creating awareness around living or deceased organ donation in families. After going through all the pain and anxieties, I thought this could be the best possible way that I can help others to fight similar battles. I jumped at the chance to be a part of the transplant team at ILBS hospital and started my journey as a transplant coordinator in the liver transplant unit.

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Since then, I have worked with different hospitals in different cities as a transplant coordinator and counselled many donors.  I love my work and always take my example to make families understand the importance of organ donation. I happily show them my scars, which I am immensely proud of, and let them know the happiness and contentment behind my organ donation story. Yes, I tell everyone that a part of me now lives in my father. With a hope that my story keeps inspiring everyone, I request all of you who are reading this, to pledge to be an organ donor after death and not think twice before donating organ for a loved one, if need be.

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