Time is of the essence for patients waiting for a kidney transplant – but donors are not readily available
Jan 12, 2021
“The trouble is and kidney donors have never been easily identified, even if they find someone willing to donate to them, in many cases these people are not compatible with or compatible with patients. ” – Dr. Kishore Persaud
Not Rehanna Ramsay
Kaieteur News – Although young people and young adults make up a small percentage of patients diagnosed with End-stage Kidney Disease (ESKD), their stories of survival can be just as effective as the story of an older person battling it the illness.
In Guyana, at least 15 people under the age of 25 are listed among the patients in need of emergency transplants because of acute kidney failure.
These young people, like Rahaim François, 23, and his cousin Riquan Robertson, 18, have an average of two to three years on dialysis treatment before their condition worsens and becomes fatal.
Francois and Robertson have been living on dialysis treatment, administered three times a week at $ 12,000 per session. Together, the two young men have been on treatment for more than a year. They are both listed for transplant operation, but have difficulty identifying compatible donors.
Both young men are patients of a local Kidney Transplant Surgeon, Dr. Kishore Persaud, who has been using his portfolio to highlight their situation in the hope of getting the help they need to improve and lead normal lives.
Recently, Dr. Persaud with Kaieteur News about the problems facing the treatment of his young patients. He explained that, like most serious cases of kidney failure, these young people would have to undergo transplant surgery.
“The trouble is and kidney donors have never been easily identified, even if they find someone willing to donate to them, in many cases these people are not neither compatible nor patient-friendly, ”said Dr. Persaud, who leads the Kidney Transplant Department at Georgetown Public Health Corporation (GPHC).
Dr. Persaud has been pushing for a legal framework to cover cadaveric or dead brain organ transplants; a mechanism that he believes can be extremely effective in helping to ease the burden of finding compatible donors.
With the legislation in place, he explained that organs will be more readily available to patients who need transplants.
Meanwhile, given the shortage of organ donors, he noted that in some cases, if patients are lucky, they would be able to change donors and have a match. This process is called matching. According to Dr. Persaud, having a compatible fit is essential to a successful operation. It is so important that if the patient and donor are not compatible, the operation cannot be carried out.
In cases where patients would have to change donors in order to have a match, Dr. Persaud that this ends as the transplant exercise is successfully completed.
An example of this is the case of Malika Dey, who was diagnosed with ESKD about two years ago. Dey was one of the more fortunate patients that Dr. Persaud obtained.
Although her journey to survival was not easy, she told Kaieteur News that she was grateful that she had pulled through successfully. Dey said she noted that she was without prayers, dedicated family members and the transplant team from the GPHC.
“I had no health complications before the diagnosis of kidney failure,” said Dey who began to experience dizziness and vomiting before she found out about her life-threatening condition. She stated that she was skeptical about going on the treatment given the cost involved but had no choice after a sudden fall and fall into a coma.
She was placed in the GPHC’s Intensive Care Unit for almost two weeks.
The renal failure survivor stated that she was then immediately put on dialysis.
“I had no choice but to go on dialysis until I was able to have the surgery,” he shared.
Her father, Mark Nelson, decided to be her donor but it was not a contest. However, she explained that she was paired with another patient Michael Totaram, whose donor matched her and her father, could give him a gift.
“We were not matched by our respective donors but we were able to help each other because when we compared my father matched Totaram and his donor matched me.” Dey added.
Given her experience, the kidney transplant survivor is very supportive of legislation that will facilitate cadaveric or brain dead patient donor transplants, an undertaking that Dr. Persaud and his team have been pushing it for more than eight years.
Currently, Dr. Persaud in consultation with the Donation and Transplant Foundation in Europe (DTI). The Spanish-based organization is a leading authority on organ harvesting and transplantation worldwide.
In November last year, DTI Executive Director, Dr. Maria Paula Gómez, during a virtual discussion that a series of proposed steps are expected to be introduced before Guyana’s first donor transplant legislation is introduced and implemented.
Dr. Gomez is among an international team providing support to local doctors who lobby for the passing of the new law. Dr. noted that Gomez, through the virtual meeting, although transplant law is important to the country, it is equally important for policymakers and citizens to be educated and aware of the subject.
As such, Dr. Gomez said a series of webinars will be held to help spread awareness to policy makers and other types of stakeholders on the issue.
The virtual discussion was facilitated by Dr. Persaud and his team in the Kidney Transplant Department of GPHC, as well as Dr. Hassina Mohamed from Trinidad and Tobago, anesthesiologist and lobbyist for the transplant of twin donor organs in the Republic of the Island.