Two men conquer infection, undergo kidney transplant

November 03, 2020

Two fairly young kidney patients on dialysis — one from Tumakuru and another from Belagavi — had a relative each willing to donate an organ, but they contracted Covid-19 in July-August and the infection threatened their lives. However, doctors treated their infection and both underwent renal transplant successfully last month.

Patients opting for kidney transplant are put on immunosuppressant medicines, which make them highly vulnerable to infections. But doctors say the two cases have shattered the myth that Covid-19 infections are a deterrent to transplants. The two are the only live organ transplants among people who have recovered from Covid-19 in Karnataka so far. Doctors at Columbia Asia hospital, Yeshwantpur conducted the surgery.

“Performing a kidney transplant on such patients is complicated and challenging as it is difficult to say how patients will respond to surgery, partly owing to the immunosuppressive medications,” said Dr Deepak Kumar, consultant nephrologist and transplant physician. “However, both patients have recovered well.”

Rayappa Bheemappa Halangali, 29, a teacher from Belagavi, came to Bengaluru in August seeking transplant surgery. His 48-year-old mother was the donor. He was undergoing dialysis in Bengaluru when he contracted the virus.

“I was looking forward to years of good health with a transplant when this happened. I have no clue how I got infected although my symptoms were mild,” Rayappa said. “My mother was negative. Though I was initially shattered, I was counselled and developed courage.” He went under the knife on October 19.

Doctors at Columbia Asia had already had a similar experience before that. Yogesh HS, 24, a truck driver from Tumakuru, who had arrived in Bengaluru in July seeking transplant surgery, tested positive.

Yogesh’s 51-year-old agriculturist father was the donor and he was negative for Covid. On September 28, after complete recovery from Covid, he underwent kidney transplant.

“I am on immunosuppressant medication, but I’m absolutely fine. The big fear was whether I would be able to undergo surgery,” said Yogesh. He, however, has been advised to stay away from truck driving for a couple of years. “I will have to think of some other job now,” he said.

Dr Manohar T, senior consultant, urology and chief of transplant surgery, says care must be exercised in choosing patients for transplant because the risk of contracting Covid during the procedure is high. “It requires meticulous planning and execution till discharge,” he said.