“When Indians came to know that we are Pakistanis, they went out of the way to help us”

In these times of hate-driven crimes, protests and conspiracies, some Indian students have, by donating blood for a Pakistani liver transplant patient, shown that humanity and compassion come above all else.

Due to the timely contribution from these students, a team of the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital here was able to successfully perform a complicated liver transplant involving arterial reconstruction on 54-year-old Zaib-un-Nisa. The life-saving operation was performed on Pakistan Independence Day – August 14.

Ms. Nisa, who is now recuperating, was all praise for the doctors. “This rebirth is the Id gift they have given to me,” she said.

Her 26-year-old son, Umar Subhanni, who donated a part of his liver to save her, said, “When Indians came to know that we are Pakistanis, they went out of the way to help us. Starting from our landlord in Delhi to our taxi driver or vegetable vendor everybody not only helped us but also came to the hospital to enquire about my mother’s health.”

“When we needed blood for my mother and we pasted notices outside students hostels, six students came forward to donate blood. I am so touched and obliged to all of them.”

Usually patients undergoing liver transplant are advised to arrange for 10 units of blood in case of any eventuality.

Hospital authorities said Ms. Nisa, who hails from Sialkot in Pakistan, had been suffering from Hepatitis C infection for three to four years. She started developing ascites (stomach filled with fluid), nasal bleed, blood in stools, and hepatic encephalopathy (coma) and was admitted to a hospital in Lahore in January 2012.

The hospital said she could not walk even for a short distance nor was she able to do her household work.

It was then that the family contacted the liver transplant team at the Delhi hospital for further evaluation and treatment. She was advised transplant as she had advanced liver cirrhosis (more than 80 per cent liver damage).

Her son, working with the Chief Minister of Punjab, Pakistan, then came forward for evaluation as the donor. Once his fitness was assessed, the hospital wasted no time.

Reconstructing artery

The operation, the hospital said, was technically challenging as the hepatitis virus had caused damage to Ms. Nisa’s hepatic artery which carries oxygenated blood to the liver.

The artery had to be reconstructed with a conduit, obtained from the patient’s right thigh vein. The reconstruction was performed simultaneously with implantation of the new liver so that arterial supply was established for the new liver.

It took 21 personnel a total of 16 hours to carry out the operation. Only one unit of blood was needed and this was possible due to the expertise of the transplant surgeons.

The hospital said the cost of the transplant was Rs. 17.75 lakh.

The hepatitis infection, which Ms. Nisa had contracted, is globally the second most common cause of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer and affects 180 million people. About three per cent of the world’s population is infected and liver cirrhosis develops in 15 to 20 per cent of the cases.

Among Asian countries, the virus spreads most often through sharing of infected needles, receiving infected blood or through accidental exposure to such blood.