In a rare medical feat, a 55-year-old doctor got a new lease of life when a successful kidney transplant was performed on him despite his blood group being different from the donor, his wife.
In October 2018, Dr Sumathi Kumar was diagnosed with end-stage kidney failure. The situation looked grim as none of his relatives who shared his blood type (B+) was fit to donate a kidney and unrelated kidney transplant is not legally viable.
“With all my relatives suffering from medical conditions like diabetes, my chances of finding a matching donor was reduced to 5-7 per cent,” said Dr Sumathi, who is an anesthesiologist. His wife Vanitha then came forward to donate a kidney even though her blood group is A-ve.
“Though I knocked on the doors of several doctors in Bengaluru, Chennai and Mumbai, none were willing to perform an incompatible kidney transplantation. Several doctors, in fact, did not even know that there were recent developments where incompatible kidney transplant (that is ABOI — ABO-incompatible) were possible,” he said.
After six months of searching, he was referred to Dr Deepak Kumar C, chief consultant, Nephrologist and Transplant Physician, and Dr Ajith Huligol, head of Kidney Transplant Surgery, from Columbia Asia Referral Hospital, Yeshwanthpur.
“Many patients die without a donor as doctors do not know this kind of transplant is possible. It is risky but it can be done,” Dr Deepak said. The surgery was more challenging as Dr Sumathi’s wife had three arteries on one kidney and two on the other though people generally have only one each.
“More number of arteries means they are smaller in size. We opted for the kidney with two arteries,” Dr Ajith said.
Vanitha said, “This was better than him having to undergo dialysis for the rest of his life.”
“It has been 45 days since the surgery and I am healthy. I urge people to donate kidneys even if they are incompatible,” Sumathi said.