JAIPUR, November 19: She is just 18, but her fighting spirit is simply exemplary. Meet the state’s first brand ambassador, Simran Sharma, who saved her father’s life by donating a portion of her liver. She also sacrificed her studies while running from pillar to post for his treatment.
The transplant took place in Chennai. After hearing her saga, health minister Rajendra Rathore met Simran on Monday and declared her as the state’s brand ambassador for organ transplant. He also spoke with the finance secretary to assist the Sharmas financially.
Meanwhile, the department officials are working overtime to introduce organ transplant facilities in the state. The department believes that “a face” will help the state further the cause. The defining moment of her life came on September 27th, when 65 percent of her liver was harvested and transplanted to her dad. “The experience was satisfying and beyond words. We were waiting for more than six months for the successful transplant,” Simran said.
Her mother Shefali and father are both doctors in the government-run Kanwatia hospital. She is the only child and also aspires to become a doctor. Simran was the only eligible donor. Her mother could have donated a part of her organ, but was not clinically fit as she was suffering from cancer and had undergone chemotherapy, thus Dr Shefali was ruled out.
In March, when my father complained of stomach uneasiness and internal bleeding, he was rushed to Delhi’s Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS). We stayed there for a month but his condition did not improve and it emerged that transplant was the only way out,” Simran said.
Earlier, the SMS Hospital’s medical board constituted for Simran’s father Dr Rakesh Sharma recommended that he be sent to AIIMS/ILBS Delhi for further evaluation and management of liver cirrhosis. The definite treatment of cirrhosis of liver is transplantation. However, Rajasthan does not have such facilities.
But, the doctors at ILBS rejected her plea to become a donor following the complications and the anatomy of her organ. It shattered our hopes,” she said.
They returned to Jaipur and in July her father’s condition worsened. The family rushed him to a private hospital here and the doctors opined that he needed a transplant and nothing less. “At this juncture, we were told about one doctor Mohamed Rela in Chennai, who has a vast experience in organ transplant. We hired an air ambulance and rushed him to Chennai,” she said.
“Since my liver was smaller as it appeared in various tests, the surgery became complicated. My operation continued for nine hours and my father’s operation lasted for 13 hours. Doctors claimed that it was one of the most complicated surgeries they ever performed,” she said.
The huge expenses on surgery and hospital stay added to the Sharmas’ woes. “We had to sell out our Jaipur flat. Till date, we have spent around Rs 73 lakh. We have faced emotional, physical and financial problems during the past six months. ICU treatment used to cost us Rs1.5 lakh per day. We were forced to take a loan. Colleagues also pitched in,” said Simran’s mother, Dr Shefali Sharma, from Chennai on phone.
Praising her daughter, she said, “People suggested my daughter not to donate her liver as it could pose a problem while searching for a suitable match, but she was determined to help her father. She wanted to appear in pre-medical test but she could not do so due to her father’s ill health.”
Dr Shefali said when her husband was sent to Barmer to treat flood victims in 2007, he had contracted malaria and later jaundice. Gradually his condition had deteriorated.