Monday, March 28, 2011

Traffic Pollution Doubles Lung Transplant Death Rate, Study Finds

Air pollution from car traffic may double the risk of organ rejection and death in lung transplant patients, Belgian researchers report in a new study.

The study, which tracked nearly 300 lung transplant recipients over more than a decade, found that patients living less than 600 feet from a main road were twice as likely to develop a severe lung inflammation associated with organ rejection within several years of surgery.

The researchers concluded that nearly 30 percent of deaths in lung transplant recipients could be attributed to living near a main thoroughfare.

The study appears in the latest edition of the medical journal Thorax.

Lung transplant, a last resort for sufferers of end-stage lung disease, has grown increasingly common since the first successful long-term transplant was accomplished in 1983; the procedure was attempted roughly 1,700 times in the U.S. in 2007, statistics show.

Survival rates have also risen dramatically, with more than 80 percent of patients now surviving after their first year, and more than 50 percent surviving five years after surgery.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Transplant Experience- a true life story.

When we stepped into the tiny house located in R Nagar in Bangalore, we were welcomed by a young girl. All of 8 years, with shy, sparkling eyes reflecting not only childhood, but which also held the depths of someone who had seen too much at her young age- Reema, her younger brother Ankit- a young boy filled with mischief which can only be found in boy at the age of 6, and Rohini, their mother- a wonderful and charming erstwhile home maker, now a school teacher. What we could see, through strangers’ eyes- A happy family content with living a simple life. With 2 beautiful children- Reema and Ankit,and a loving, supportive wife,Rohini, Anupam Singh could not have asked for more. [Names changed upon request].

In 2007, like most Bengalureans today, Anupam fell victim to a severe allergy attack and had to be medicated with anti-biotics for an extensive period of 4 years. The result? He suffered from a high blood pressure problem and further tests including an abdomen scan revealed that both his kidneys had been damaged beyond repair. He was referred to a larger, more well known hospital [name withheld on request] for the dialysis process, by the doctors at the company hospital.

Life had taken a tragic turn for this small family of four, with the main bread-winner no longer being able to work to support them. Anupam had to undergo dialysis until a suitable donor of a kidney was found.

The only silver lining to Anupam and Rohini’s troubles was the fact that since Anupam worked for a Public sector company, his medical expenses were being covered by his employer. But that did not solve his problem of losing out on a steady income since he could no longer work. Someone once said, ‘Friends are the family that God forgot to give us’. This was true since Anupam’s colleagues stepped in to and contributed a fixed sum per month which sustained the family in distress.

The only permanent solution to Anupam’s condition was to get a kidney transplant surgery. The questions were, From where would this kidney be sourced, who would donate and what were the ensuing costs involved? In India, the law states that only immediate family and spouses can be sourced as live donors for organ transplants.

But despite being the youngest of 4 siblings, no one came forward to even test whether his/her blood group would match Anupam’s. The reasons ranging from a B.P problem to having family dependencies, Anupam’s siblings took several steps back. Donation was a far thought. Family not volunteering to save a person in distress was one of the biggest ironies, and has now sadly, become a commonality.

Rohini went through a rough times with the hospital visits. Ask her about the difference the presence of a supportive and sensitive counsellor would have made to their situation at that time, and she reminisces and agrees that it would perhaps have been a bit easier to handle the stress, if someone had been there with words of encouragement. Women are emotionally strong, but seeing a loved in constant pain can break down even the strongest of women and men. Putting up a brave front for the children and facing all odds could have been easier for her if only she had the emotional support of someone who knew more, or had a better understanding of what she was going through.

The dismal plight of this family of 4 with no help or assistance from the immediate family, struck a chord with Dr. Sen, the senior Doctor on duty at the hospital who then suggested that Anupam register with ‘ZCCK’, a Government organization which facilitates the cadaver transplant of organs to needy recipients in Karnataka. To the common man, even the word ‘cadaver’ does not hold much meaning. Cadaver transplant simply means the transplant of a donor’s organs once the donor has passed away.

The major challenge for Anupam and his family was that cadaver transplants were rare. Simply because donations were few and deaths where donations could be facilitated and organs harvested, even rarer. Then began the gruelling wait for a donor cadaver and one with a matching kidney at that.

Finally in August 2010, luck struck the Singh family. There were 4 registrants with the same blood group as Anupam, and all for kidneys. Every time there was a possibility of a donation, all 4 were tested for compatibility with the donor organ, and the one found compatible would be given the organ. Anupam and Rohini were overjoyed when a cadaver donor’s kidney was found to be suitable to his blood type and kidney match. The other 3 waiting with him were a 55 year old man, an 18 year old girl and a 13 year old boy. To quote him, “I felt elated at the prospect of receiving a new kidney and a new life. However, I am also a father and seeing 13 year old children suffer in front of me ebbed my happiness but also filled me with gratitude and made me understand the value of life”.

Anupam was operated on for 8 hours. The harrowing wait during this time was hardly lengthy for a family which had waited 2.5 years for respite from their misery. The surgery was a success. Thanks to his employer, Anupam’s employers and his supportive colleagues, the family has now come to terms with the past 3 years and Anupam is now on the road to recovery. He is on immuno-suppressants and is on a permanent diet restriction with instructions on hygienic living to lead a normal life. He is healthy, young, and has a positive attitude towards life.

When asked about the identity of the donor, Anupam said “I only wish to know the identity of the donor- a brother I know nothing of, but for whom I pray every day of my new life. He has done more for me than my own blood brother. I only wish to fall at his parents’ feet and wash them with the tears of gratitude at having been given a new lease on life”. Noble thoughts and purity in genuine gratitude are what we saw in Anupam and Rohini, for the organ donor and his family.

We left, feeling inspired and having learnt a lesson on the the value of life, family and friends.

Written & Researched by Nanditha Kini & Tina Budhrani

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Collective power of the youth – for our country’s resurgence…I will “Go Direct”.. And you?

Former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam once said that the great challenge of transforming India can be achieved through youth, which has got the power of ideas, ambition and ability.

Another report mentions how India's youth have a very unique advantage, they have a combination of mobility, language, education, a thirst for knowledge and a technology-savvy nature, qualities that will drive the nation's growth in the coming years

Definitely a matter of pride for us…right? But then we are not growing as a country the way we should…. And if I had to believe what the analysts and what Dr. Kalam are saying… then I know that we are not growing because we are working towards it…. Atleast I am not!

I know very few youths, including myself who have really gone beyond their immediate social circle to do something for the society, for our country? Yes we care, yes we are proud of who we are and yes we want to make a difference… but then what happens beyond that?

Statistics report that almost 72 % of India's population is below the age of 40 and close to 47% of Indians are under the age of 20, and it is supposedly this collective power that can help India achieve its dream. But then what this therefore means is that this 72% of Indians need to now rise up, wake up from their slumber, fasten their seat belts and accelerate their actions towards making India a country the world can be proud of.

It is important that this "youth" positioning in India becomes a rising power in all spheres and sectors. We, the youth of this country need to make things happen and make the dreams of our earlier generation a reality. After all, we are the generation that is reaping the benefits of the struggle of our forefathers who fought for the freedom of this nation. We are also the generation that is reaping the benefits of our forefathers’ work, determination and attitude.

So what are we expected to do?

Be aware of where the country is heading – How many us have actually deep-dived into this year’s annual budget and made notes on what are the highlights and lowlights… what is green and what is red… Not me.. Did you? Why is it that we did not foresee the service tax inclusion on healthcare services and figure out that this is unjustified and unfair? That wasn’t rocket science…. Or maybe we read about it and just figured that we cannot do anything….

Release the passion towards the progress of the country –We are the same people who put in our best foot for a college fest, stayed back late after college to practice for competitions and worked over-time for that important client visit. We know how to make the best use of 24 hours because we believe that our involvement will make a difference….. can we bring the same passion to make a difference to our country? I had always assumed that if I study well and if I have a great career then I am actually indirectly contributing to the growth of the country…..I think what I need to now do is go direct…. I think we need to feed our passion into the resurgence of our country!

Believe that together we can – Thanks to web 2.0, today we are much closer to our family and our friends. Social networking sites have allowed us to track everything that goes on in our friends’ lives…. its’ time we now use this technology to our advantage. Lets use our collective power to stand up against violence, work for the under-privileged and work towards creating awareness for causes like organ donation, female infanticide and many more. All we have to do is take that one step towards using our networking and build a snowball effect for all that’s good.

I want to make a difference and I want to make a difference by contributing more directly….I know its’ hard.

While its’ easy to think about contributing, its’ hard to actually get down to doing it…. There are so many things I am already involved in – home, family, work, ambitions, holidays, friends, kids and so much more……all of them important… all of them critical…. but one thing is for sure….. I atleast know I am going to be conscious towards working to ‘be more direct’….I will come up with a plan that will allow me to contribute to my country and I will work towards implementing that…. What about you?