Puja Bhatnagar of Delhi was suffering from chronic liver disease for 17 years. She was surviving on medicines, but doctors had told her that they were no longer enough and only a liver transplant can save her.
Her husband, Anurag Bhatnagar, posted a plea for help on his Facebook page as none of their family members and relatives were compatible donors. But Puja never imagined that a friendship would save her life.
Chennai-based Prasanna Gopinath stepped in and flew to Delhi, ready to donate a part of his liver to save Puja’s life. The operation was conducted on July 21 at Max Hospital in Saket with the help of crowdfunding.
The transplant was successful and the doctors said that both the donor and recipient were doing well post-surgery.
The Transplant Act is strict about non-related organ donors, and the ethical committee at Max scrutinised the details minutely. “The authorities considered the strong bond of friendship between patient and donor and allowed the liver donation,” disclosed Dr Subhash Gupta, chief liver transplant surgeon at Max Hospital, reported The Times of India.
Puja and Prassana’s friendship began in 2005. He used to share a flat with Puja’s husband while studying at the University of Glamorgan in Wales.
The 34-year-old came back to India in 2009 and started working in Chennai as a dog trainer after completing his studies. He always kept in touch with the Bhatnagars and 12 years later, his friendship proved to be a boon for them.
“The moment Puja’s post came up, I decided to help her out. The decision was spontaneous as I knew that I had to do this,” said Gopinath to The Logical Indian.
The staff at Max Hospital was also impressed with him. They said that even family members back out when it comes to donating organs and it was a pleasant surprise to see a friend step forward to help.
Gopinath said that he has recovered successfully from the procedure. However, he needs to keep a check on his diet and not involve himself in strenuous physical activities.
“For the next 3-4 months, I need to take precautions to keep myself healthy. But for the liver to generate, it takes only 10-15 days,” he added. With the support of his family, Gopinath is recovering fast.
When Gopinath had willingly agreed to help Puja, the Bhatnagars did not have the entire Rs 25 lakh for the procedure. Her friends, family and students came to her aid. They spread the word about the surgery and the need for funds, and 363 people from across the globe sent in money through the crowdfunding platform, Impact Guru.
Even people who didn’t know Puja personally stepped in out of humanity.
The Logical Indian community commends the courage of Prassana Gopinath and his family. He made a conscious decision which many of us would have been too afraid to take. We also acknowledge the efforts of Puja’s friends and family, and the hundreds of others who helped fund her transplant without even knowing her.
The Logical Indian takes this as an opportunity to tell our community members that live liver donations are safe and donors can expect to live long and healthy lives as the liver is an organ that regenerates itself quickly. Surgeons can remove a small portion of the liver and transplant the segment into the recipient. Once transplanted, the segment grows large enough to carry out its vital roles in metabolism, blood detoxification, and digestion. Due to the liver’s regenerative ability, the risk to the donor is mitigated.