A 28-year-old woman developed chronic renal failure and was put on dialysis in a city hospital three months ago. When doctors suggested Vaishnavi (name changed) go for a kindney transplant, her husband dumped her and turned incommunicado.
Vaishnavi’s mother came forward to donate her kidney, but there was a bigger challenge: the recipient had to get her estranged husband’s consent. As per the rulebook, as long as a couple is married and not legally separated, spousal consent is a must for live organ donation.
Vaishnavi’s nephrologist managed to reach out to her husband and brought him before the organ transplant approval committee of the hospital so that she could undergo the transplant at Columbia Asia Hospital, Yeshwantpur, on August 13. The woman is now on the road to recovery.
Married for the six years, Vaishnavi had no children and was in the first trimester of her pregnancy when she went for a routine scan. She was suffering from urine infection and had high sugar levels. Her condition was finally diagnosed as chronic kidney failure and she had to undergo a transplant. She also had to go for medical termination of her pregnancy because of the renal complications.
Dr Deepak Kumar C, chief consultant nephrologist and transplant physician who treated Vaishnavi, said the transplant could have been done in the worst scenario without the husband appearing before the committee as he had remained aloof. "But we tried our best to make sure that he doesn’t come back after a couple of years to raise an issue of his consent not having been taken for the procedure. He was well aware of her condition. The couple is not legally separated," said Dr Deepak.
Cases expose gender fault lines: Doc
Dr Sankaran Sundar, consultant nephrologist, Manipal Hospitals, said there have been many cases where renal failure has led to breaking of marriages. "To donate/receive an organ, spousal consent is a must, as long as the receiver or donor is married. In many cases, marriages have broken when the wife is diagnosed with kidney failure. If the same happens to a man, the wife volunteers to be a donor. The gender bias exists," he opined.
He recalled the case of a young unmarried man who suffered from kidney failure 30 years ago in Vellore. His sister came forward to donate her kidney and her husband’s consent was needed. "But her husband had left her long ago and when he was asked to come, he demanded Rs 1 lakh. The poor patient said he would get the money after the transplant, but his brother-in-law said he may not even survive the transplant. He refused to give consent without the money and finally, the patient died within a week. That case still haunts me," said Dr Sundar.