By Jenelle Carter
When 25-year-old Melissa George learnt that her father would be afforded a second chance at life if he was given a kidney, she opted to be the donor despite her father’s disagreement.
Now four days after the surgery was successfully completed, Melissa is resting comfortably in her Lamaha Springs, North Ruimveldt home almost completely recovered.
Melissa, who gave one of her kidneys to her father, retired Guyana Defence Force Major Winston George, was yesterday discharged from the Intensive Care Unit of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation.
In a bubbly mood yesterday, Melissa told this newspaper that she is happy to be home again and more so because she and her father have “passed the worst.”
Melissa said that her decision to give the life-saving organ to her father was not a difficult one for her, especially considering the love and care that she was shown by him as a child.
She said that had her father died her younger siblings would have been robbed of the opportunity of experiencing their father’s special brand of love.
“When we were children there was so much we enjoyed with our father but since he got ill it was like my younger siblings were robbed of spending time with him, so when I had the opportunity to help I grasped at it in an effort to give them some more time together,” Melissa said.
She noted that her father loves to spend quality time with his children but his illness over the last eight years disallowed that.
She reminisced on the long walks and the fun games that her dad played with the elder children.
Melissa said leading up to the surgery she did not ponder too much on the possible ramifications of the major medical intervention, preferring to focus instead on getting the surgery done.
“It’s something that had to be done and I just did it,” she said.
She however admits that she harboured a bit of apprehension when the initial plan to have the surgery conducted in India fell through and she learnt that it would be done locally instead.
“I was a little scared but then I was told that medical experts would be coming in to do the surgery…so I felt a bit safer,” she noted with a laugh.
Her fears were further dispelled after she conducted research on kidney transplants and learnt of the relative safety of the procedure.
Melissa, who is not yet a mother, admits that she was also a bit fearful of the effect of the surgery on her reproductive ability but said after being told that the transplant would in no way affect this area of her life she felt even more emboldened to go ahead with the surgery.
“Despite my little fears I was more than willing to give my father one of my kidneys…if it was the other way around I know he would have done the same for me and I see this as my way of repaying my father, because he worked really hard to maintain us as children.”
She recalled that even though she was more than eager to go ahead with donating the kidney once she had all the facts about the transplant, her father was hesitant. He felt that it would have been asking too much of his daughter.
He even related that donating an organ was the kind of gesture that parents should show towards a child rather than the other way around. However her father finally gave in to her persistence.
“I wanted to do it for him. It wasn’t easy to see my father suffer for the past eight years…He had to give up studies at the University of Guyana because of his illness,” she recalled.
Melissa, who has a fear of hospitals, said that prior to the day of the surgery she refused to be hospitalised and would not even visit anyone in hospital because of her phobia.
“Once I was in the hospital that fear was gone and before going into the operating theatre I recalled waving at my dad because they took me in first, and the last thing I remember was one of the doctors holding and praying with me,” she recounted. Hours later, Melissa awoke in the Intensive Care Unit.
“I regained consciousness very fast, according to the doctors, and the first thing I did was ask where my father was because he wasn’t on his bed and they told me that everything went well and they would be bringing him back over soon.”
Not long after, Melissa said that her father was brought back to the ward and they began communicating.
“He looked at me and I asked him how he was feeling and he asked me if we were finished and I said yes but he didn’t believe until he checked and saw the cut in his lower abdomen,” she added.
As it relates to her health, Melissa said she is feeling well except for minor pains she is experiencing around the area where she was cut to have the kidney removed.
She added that colleagues at the Immigration Office where she is employed have been very supportive throughout the ordeal and she expressed gratitude for that.
“I am moving around and using the washroom as normal. The only problem I have is finding a comfortable position to sit or to lie,” she said.
Meanwhile, Melissa’s mother Lorraine, happy to have her daughter back home, hugged her numerous times during the interview.
Recounting some of the turmoil endured by the family over the last eight years as a result of her husband’s illness, she said the most difficult part her husband had to deal with was being told by the Guyana Defence Force that he should retire since he was deemed medically unfit.
“I remember after he retired and was at home, one morning after the children left for school, I saw him crying and when I asked what happened he said that he was worried how the family would make out financially since he was no longer working.”
She added that caring for her husband was no easy task but she is just overwhelmed with joy that “it is all finally over.”
Now that her daughter is home, Mrs. George is eagerly awaiting her husband’s return for the family to fully celebrate. She is however cognizant that it will take more effort on her part to help her husband make a full and quick recovery.
“It will be no easy task taking care of him, but I will do all I can for my husband and my daughter to ensure they get back to leading their normal lives and to live even better lives.”
Winston George is expected to be discharged from the hospital today.
The kidney transplant, the second to be performed locally, was completed in record time at the Georgetown Public Hospital last Sunday.
The surgery was done by Dr Rahul Jindal, who was aided by his overseas team as well as local health personnel. The first kidney transplant was conducted last August.
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