Long ago, the Three Princes of Serendip went on a journey on the high seas. The three princes, strangely, seemed to possess the faculty of finding fortunate things entirely by accident. Serendip is the Persian word for Sri Lanka.

This new age fairy tale of serendipity also originates from the island of Serendip. Just like the princes in the old tale, Mohammed Nazeem and Mohammed Nazir, both from Kandy, Sri Lanka, crossed the oceans, in their quest for a cure for their liver disease. Across the seas, in Chennai, they found a fortuitous solution, though not quite the one they were looking for.

We hear that Mohammed Nazeem, 50, had come to Global Hospitals, Chennai, with cirrhosis of the liver. His wife, Fathima, volunteered to donate part of her liver, but it turned out that she was not a match for her husband.

Meanwhile, Mohammed Nazir, 48, who had chronic liver disease, was also bid by his doctors to cross the seas, seek treatment at Global Hospitals. Again, investigations revealed that he had end stage liver disease, and a liver transplant was the only way out. His 21-year old son, Mohammed Zamrin, was willing to donate, but, was not a match.

As both families mulled over the crisis, they also found each other across the rooms of Global Hospitals. They had been friends for over 35 years, and were also very distantly related.

Serendipitously, Fathima turned out to be a perfect donor for Mr. Nazir, and Zamrin's liver was a suitable match for Mr. Nazeem.

This adult swap transplantation had to be approved by the Authorisation Committee as it was unrelated transplants under the Transplantation of Human Organs Act. Approval came after a couple of weeks, and two days after it came, the surgeries were performed.

“Part of two livers had to be taken out of two donors, and put into two other recipients, nearly simultaneously,” explained K. Ravindranath, chairman and MD, Global Hospitals Group. Swap liver is a huge benefit to patients given that there is an acute shortage of organs, even via cadaveric transplantation.

“This complex surgical exercise would not have been possible but for a team of highly-skilled consultants, technical support staff and more importantly, precision in co-ordination,” he said.

Both patients, and donors, recovered remarkably after surgery, and were discharged within two to three weeks.

The rate of recovery of patients was variable, depending on multiple factors, but both families are ready to fly back to Kandy.

If there is a fairy-tale ending to this story as well, they probably will live happily ever after.

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