An official at Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) was woken up by an unusual call at 7:30 am on Thursday. The caller, a man from Tamil Nadu, wanted to know the procedure for donating his kidney to external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj. The official asked the caller to call the relevant person and immediately hung up. His phone did not stop ringing after that.
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The official was flooded with calls hours after Swaraj tweeted about her kidney failure on Wednesday. “I cannot remember the exact number of calls that I have received. But I remember receiving around forty calls,’’ he said. “I have not replied to the calls as only a competent authority is authorised to receive requests for donation.’’ The official said that he received calls mostly from the Hindi heartland. “The first call was from Tamil Nadu. It was very evident from the accent. Later, I got calls from different states, but majority of them came from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Punjab and Haryana.’’
Swaraj acknowledged a groundswell of the support. “Some friends have also offered their kidney for my transplant. I have no words to express my deep sense of gratitude towards them.” Swaraj had earlier announced that she was undergoing dialysis at AIIMS following the failure. “I am undergoing tests for a kidney transplant. Lord Krishna will bless,” she had tweeted. Support for Swaraj began pouring in minutes later.
AIIMS sources separately said the minister’s diabetes was under control and that she continued to be under investigation for her renal transplant. They added that the kidney donor had not been finalized yet.
The donor has to be an immediate family member as per the rules. In case of a cadaver transplant, the family consent of the donor is required. AIIMS sources said that the law allows unrelated people to donate kidneys for transplant, but it is done in rare cases. Immediate family donors can also be swapped between patients in case the kin are incompatible for donations. If a husband is willing to donate a kidney to his wife but is not compatible, he can do so for another patient, provided a relative of that patient is compatible with his wife and can donate a kidney.