He belongs to a Christian sect called Jehovah's Witnesses and for him The Bible is the word of God — it also prevents him from taking or giving any blood even if his life depended on it.
This peculiar case baffled doctors at south Delhi's Moolchand Hospital when Gideon Kalu (34), a chartered accountant from Nigeria, suffering from end-stage kidney disease, approached them.
He agreed to undergo a kidney transplant only if the doctors did not transfuse any blood in him.
The sect to which Kalu belongs does not accept or give blood in any form because "The Bible says so".
The doctors were staring at a huge legal hassle if anything were to go wrong during his operation — Kalu's elder brother was to be the donor. All major surgeries such as open-heart surgery, brain operations, organ transplantation, etc., integrally require blood transfusions during, before or after.
"The person could have bled to death on the operation table and we wouldn't have been able to do a thing. It was a matter of two lives," said Dr HS Bhatyal, senior transplant surgeon at the hospital.
Convincing the brothers was impossible, as they would read out passages from The Bible that prohibited them from taking or giving blood.
Seeing no end to this confusion, the hospital took an undertaking from them in the form of an affidavit, which they then got verified from the Nigerian embassy. So on May 3, with nearly 100 people from his church in Delhi present in the hospital, Kalu was successfully operated upon with no blood loss and transfusion.
"They had their own doctor to assess the condition and we performed the surgery only after a go-ahead from all quarters," said Dr Bhatyal.
What made the surgery challenging was that Kalu's haemoglobin at the time of admission was a dangerous 4, which is 30% of normal haemoglobin count. Not to mention other complications that he was suffering from including high blood pressure, water in abdomen and chest, breathlessness.
Using iron injections for about a month, doctors first increased Kalu's haemoglobin, and treated him of his blood pressure and other conditions.
"Our primary focus was to perform the surgery so meticulously as to have bare minimum blood loss," said Dr Ramesh Kumar, transplant physician.
"My life wasn't the point here. The point was our belief in something and to stick by it, come what may. The Bible says blood means life by itself," said Kalu casually.