Amit Kapoor (38) said it felt like the sky has fallen on him. The corporate lawyer in Delhi developed complete kidney failure last year and his only hope of a transplant and surviving rested on his mother, who decided to donate her kidney. "Ever since my doctors had warned me of a possible kidney collapse, my mother had assured me that I could count on her kidney. But when our blood groups didn't match, ruling out donation, it felt like the end," said Kapoor.
His wife was also unable to help as she was born with only one kidney. "Later we saw hope in kidney swap transplant but the two families we approached back tracked. One donor was afraid to give his kidney to a stranger and in the other case their family priest intervened," he added. Ashwini Kumar (41), in some other part of the city, was facing the same dilemma.
Kumar, a central government employee, had inherited his kidney disorder from his father. His kidney had failed with no hope left when his wife's blood group failed to match his.
"I had agreed to donate my kidney to Ashwini but our blood groups were different. On our doctor's advice we met many patients facing a problem of donor mismatch but they were full of apprehensions regarding kidney swapping," said his wife Geetika Sood (29).
"While some were unaware that a swap transplant was a legal option, some were hesitant regarding donating their kidney to someone outside their kin," she said.While swapping kidneys has been a legal and tested option for patients, doctors say families still eye the process with suspicion.
"The mismatch between a donor and recipient because of varying blood groups is one of the biggest problems for kidney transplants. In such cases, swap transplantation comes to rescue," said Dr Anant Kumar, director urology and kidney transplant at Fortis Hospital, Vasant Kunj. "Swap transplantation can lead to a successful transplantation. But the challenge is to convince donors, as they do not want to give it to anyone but family. And the bigger challenge is that most people are unaware about it," he said.
According to government rule, an approval from the local sub divisional magistrate (SDM) is required even if both parties have agreed to a swap transplant. So the Kapoors and Kumars approached an SDM but he refused to sign, as he was unaware that swapping of kidneys was possible. It took the families almost two months get the approval.
"Every year, 1.5 lakh new people with kidney failure are added to the existing pool of kidney patients. However, only about 3,500 people manage to get kidney transplants," said Dr Sanjeev Gulati, additional director nephrology at Fortis-Escorts hospitals.