Organ donation

Deepak - Interview 12

Age at interview: 49

Brief outline: Deepak had kidney disease from his early 30s and, later, had dialysis for two weeks. In 1995 he had a kidney transplant, aged 35. His new kidney took about ten days to start working properly, an extremely worrying time. Deepak is very well now.

Background: Deepak is a self-employed management consultant. He is married and has two adult children. Ethnic background / nationality' South Asian.

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Deepak has a family history of kidney disease. His grandmother died of kidney disease, and his mother died of the illness when he was only twelve. Two of his brothers also died of kidney disease and, later, when his sister was diagnosed, Deepak wanted to donate one of his own kidneys to her and began having tests. The tests and re-tests showed that he had very early stage kidney disease himself and would need to change his diet. This news came as a shock to Deepak, who was only in his early 30s and had two young children, a four-year-old and an eighteen-month-old.

Deepak said he gave up smoking and changed his diet. He continued working and his job involved a lot of travel. As the disease progressed, he became extremely tired and later, as his kidney function decreased further, he stopped urinating. Eventually, he went on peritoneal dialysis, which involves using the patient’s peritoneum in the stomach as a membrane across which fluids and dissolved substances are exchanged from the blood. Fluid is introduced through a permanent tube in the stomach and flushed out either every night while the patient sleeps or via regular exchanges throughout the day. Its main advantage is that the patient can have treatment without visiting the hospital.

Deepak thought he might have to wait up to eight years for a kidney transplant but, only two weeks after dialysis, he was given a kidney transplant. His new kidney worked for a few hours but then stopped for about eight days. These were the most difficult days for him.

Deepak said, ‘Day seven I particularly remember as one of my darkest days in my life where I remember telling my wife who came to visit every day, “Look, that’s it. I’ve had enough. I’ve been ill. I’ve gone through this operation, been cut open and all these tubes coming out, just why don’t you do me a favour. I think we’ve got enough savings to keep you going, to have a normal life, the house etcetera, just pull out one of these plugs because I’m ready to die. Dying would be better than this.” On day nine, the new kidney started to work and Deepak’s health began to improve.

Deepak said his life was completely transformed by the transplant and that it has given him ‘a second chance’. Fifteen years on, he now travels again and is able to eat normally. He has follow-up appointments every four months and, though on long-term medication, has a good quality of life. The whole experience has given him a deeper appreciation of life and God.

Deepak is heavily involved in raising awareness of organ donation and kidney transplants, especially amongst South Asian communities in the UK, where kidney disease is more prevalent than in other communities but organ donation registration is proportionately lower. He has appeared on television, radio and in magazines, and met with British South Asian religious leaders to learn more about their views on organ donation. Deepak said that he has had a lot of support from his family, his faith, and by having a positive attitude.

Deepak is married to Celia, Interview 35.


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