“The age does not matter, what matters is the patient’s physiological state; how physically fit the patient is matters,” said Dr Rahul Jindal as he addressed the importance of kidney transplants in Guyana. He alluded to the high cost of dialysis which patients are required to undergo indefinitely if they are not afforded a transplant operation.
In Guyana the cost per dialysis session is about US$200, a process which must be undertaken at least three times per week. This process must also be complemented by necessary but costly medication.
“Dialysis is very expensive and persons have to find the money for dialysis …this whole process is lifelong and there is no way that an ordinary person can afford to go on like this, and on top of this it will affect the quality of life….They are tied to a machine five to six hours every other day and they have all of the other problems related to dialysis.”
In addition persons who are forced to undergo regular dialysis will undoubtedly be subjected to a reduced life-span which could be equivalent to one third of the life-span of a normal, healthy person, Dr Jindal revealed. As such, he noted, that when an individual suffering from renal failure is able to undergo a transplant operation, whereby a bad kidney is replaced with a good one, the life-span is likely to become normal again.
“Getting a needful transplant means that you will positively affect the quality of life as well as the life-span…that is why kidney transplant in the long run helps with both conditions as well as financially.”
Although there is a cost affixed to the transplant operation and even though the need for medication after surgery may remain life-long, Dr Jindal assured that the amount and the cost thereof will be significantly reduced when compared to undergoing dialysis. However, Dr Jindal is not ruling out the fact that dialysis is also an important process which could help save the lives of some renal failure patients.
At the moment dialysis is offered locally at the Five G Dialysis Centre in South Ruimveldt, Georgetown, and at the Balwant Singh Hospital on Thomas Street also in the city, both privately owned. The latter facility was able to install two dialysis machines about four months ago and has effectively added to the dialysis service offered here in Guyana, according to Dr Jindal.
“In the past not even the public hospitals had dialysis machines on site and so patients had to go to another place for dialysis…It is my view that it is always better to have a comprehensive treatment facility where everything is done under one roof so you have dialysis, other surgeries, urology, medical, C T scanner machines and so on. That makes it a little easier to manage and patients wouldn’t have to run from one place to the other,” Dr Jindal asserted.
The Balwant Singh Hospital, according to him is on the verge of becoming one such facility. He just last week completed two kidney transplant operations on two Lindeners at the private hospital and is set to sustain such collaboration there with the support of business tycoon, Mr. George Subraj. Subraj was instrumental in financing Dr Jindal’s travel along with a team of medical experts based in the United States to undertake the intricate operations.
Dr Jindal was ably assisted by a team of about nine acclaimed professionals including a nephrologist, anaesthesiologist and other surgeons as well as staff from the Balwant Singh hospital. The renal failure patients were both males in their 50s who had received the crucial organs from family members. As at the weekend both patients as well as the donors were alert and recovering well.
According to Dr Jindal, the transplant operations were each conducted during the course of a day and were in fact quite intense procedures.
“We have to start with the donor and that takes about three and a half to four hours and then that is staggered a bit and the other operation starts. This is two operations in two operating rooms…There is only one chance for transplant because if something goes wrong, well that’s it.”
However, there was little chance of something going wrong as the patients were thoroughly screened earlier this year to ascertain whether they could become vulnerable to risk factors. A third patient should have been operated on but reports are that he was not quite ready.
“It’s not just any one that comes in with kidney failure that we can do the transplant on…We can’t do the transplant just like that; not only do they need the donor but there is also need for investigation such as laboratory work, x-rays and they have to be screened for heart conditions and so on.”
The team of medical professionals arrived in Guyana on Tuesday and was also able to complete other kidney related operations including Vascular Access and Peritoneal Dialysis. In fact a total of 12 operations, in addition to the transplants were completed over a five-day period, Dr Jindal revealed to this newspaper.
According to Dr Jindal, a total of 64 patients were screened of which seven have kidney failure. Three of the patients screened are in their 20s and already have donors and are being prepared for surgery at a later date.
Dr Jindal, had made his mark on these shores in 2008 when he conducted the first ever kidney transplant operation at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC). The patient was 18-year-old Munesh Mangal, who received a kidney from his mother, Leelkumarie Mangal.
The move was regarded as the start of a public/private partnership which saw another transplant operation being undertaken in the following year.
Then it was 47-year-old Winston George, an army officer who was forced to retire because of his ailing condition caused by his kidney condition. Two more operations were reportedly done through the collaboration.
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