In a first, the state government sought approval from the Centre to permit transplant of a kidney from a brain-stem death patient to his brother without following the mandatory waiting list. On Wednesday, Dr Sandeep Vhatkar’s kidneys and heart were harvested to save the lives of three persons, one of whom is his younger brother Nitin Vhatkar.
For the process to be completed, the Zonal Transplant Coordination Center (ZTCC) — the cadaver organ transplant facilitation body in Mumbai — had to, for once, ignore the 3,000 plus waiting list to allow lawyer Vhatkar to receive his brother’s kidney.
Vhatkar (48) would be on dialysis thrice a week due to chronic kidney failure. On September 16, his elder brother Sandeep (54), a resident of Belapur, was rushed to Fortis Hiranandani Hospital in Vashi after suffering a brain haemorrhage. Doctors declared him brain dead and counselled Vhatkar to donate his organs two days later.
That is when Vhatkar informed the hospital’s transplant coordinator that he was a patient of kidney failure and required a kidney for himself before he could give consent to donate his brother’s organs.
“We were ready to permit this on compassionate grounds. Denying him would also waste the deceased patient’s other organs for the patients on waitlist. But not all members of the ZTCC were willing to permit jumping the queue,” said a state health official from the Directorate of Health Services. The state government, hence, decided to seek permission from the Centre to break the norm.
On Wednesday, Director General of Health Services (DGHS) Dr Jagdish Prasad gave his nod to allow Vhatkar to receive Sandeep’s one kidney. The organs were harvested by Wednesday night and the transplant surgeries were done late into the night. The other kidney was given to a 54-year-old woman at the Fortis Hiranandani Hospital. The heart was donated to a 27-year-old woman suffering from a heart ailment and admitted to Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital.
The current ZTCC list has 19 heart patients on the waiting list, 3,150 waiting for a kidney and 151 awaiting a liver donation. For Vhatkar to wait for his turn through the waiting list would have required at least five years. “Even then, a kidney can only be transplanted if all compatibility tests match between the donor and the recipient. The wait for some patients can go on even longer,” said Dr Gauri Rathod, Assistant Director at DHS.