It was November 2011, a year we would never forget! My nephew had a minor injury and my mom took him to a doctor. The doctor asked my mom about a bruise on her arm and she just shrugged saying, “Oh it’s nothing , I just bumped against a door handle the other day.” The doctor asked my mom to get a blood test done, my mom just ignored it initially but later decided to get the test done anyways. We got the results and showed them to the same doctor. He told us this is what he was suspecting, her liver enzymes were very high (SGOT, SGPT). After further tests it was concluded that my mom had Hepatitis C. Till then we had no idea how to read the tests or what enzymes were and what their normal ranges were.
History behind how she got Hepatitis C- Before the year 1986, people were given blood transfusion without actually testing the blood. My mom had a bad miscarriage after which she was given blood. It was infected with the virus. This virus stays in the body and attacks your liver very slowly. Sometimes people live their lives without the virus affecting them, but in some cases like my mom’s, it had started doing considerable amount of damage and her liver went into cirrhosis.
We started doing our research, went to specialists, consulted many doctors. In those days, Hepatitis C medicines were like chemo medicines, patient would lose hair and would be on bed for more than a year. We had heard quite a lot of horrifying stories, my mom was in her fifties and we were not ready to take any chances. We also started considering alternative medicines, we had heard homeopathy had some excellent results. We went to the best homeopath in Delhi but it didn’t work for her. Then we tried Ayurveda but as luck would have it even that didn’t work.
Fast forward one year, November 2012, I went to mom’s house and her feet were swollen beyond imagination, we had read about the disease, so we knew this was not right. We decided that we will take her to the hospital. Her tummy started to swell up like a balloon. We were told that only 20 percent of her liver was working and she needed a liver transplant immediately.
This completely shook us up as we did not expect this to happen.
We started looking at our options – cadaver donor or a living donor. We put her name in the transplant list but the list was very long. People in India do not want to donate their loved ones’ organs after death due to religious reasons. We moved to our next available option of finding a living donor. We were told by the doctor that it had to be someone from the family, ideally a blood relative. So my brother got his tests done. His liver was fatty as he was a heavy drinker and a chain smoker. Then I got my tests done and my liver matched my mom’s. My mom was adamant that she would not let me or any of her kids donate their organs. But I had made up my mind. I was a mother to a 7 year old child and I discussed it with my husband. He told me to do what is right. I am so thankful to him that he supported me in this.
The thought of losing my mom was so frightening, I did what was needed. I was not scared at all before the surgery, the thought that I was able to save my Ma and give her a few more years to live was exhilarating. Our surgery was scheduled for 12/12/2012. It was an 18 hours long surgery. I woke up in the ICU with extreme pain, the first thing I saw was my younger sister crying outside my room and saying again and again “Shaloo, you saved mom”, and that’s all I needed to hear. I lost consciousness after that. I stayed in the ICU for 2 days and in the hospital for another 4 days and those were the most difficult days of my life, I was in a lot of pain. Every time I cried, the nurse would take me outside my mom’s room. I could see my mother through the glass. My mother would wave and smile at me. She would throw flying kisses at me. I would go back to my room smiling through my tears and everything seemed good.
The next few weeks were difficult. I was in a lot of pain and I would miss my son a lot. He was not allowed to visit me as transplant patients are kept in isolation for sometime, but it was worth it.
It’s been 9 years now and my mom is perfectly fine, touch wood! I am also perfectly fine. All my test results came out fine. I gave 65 percent of my love to my Ma which grew back to normal in my body within 3 months after the surgery.
I don’t know why people are hesitant for organ transplantation. It is a wonderful way to give back to the society. I think people are hesitant because they don’t have first hand information, so when I was approached by Ambika to write an article for GurgaonMoms, I just poured my heart out. Hope my experience would be able to help someone take the decision .