He could not afford transplant for self, but in death enhanced 4 lives

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Honnappa-Lakshmi Devi

For three years, 38-year-old M Honnappa struggled with failed kidneys. His wife’s blood group was a perfect match, but he could not afford the cost of a transplant. He survived with dialysis sessions, but during a session last month his blood pressure shot up and he collapsed. He was wheeled into the ICU, but his condition deteriorated and a week later, doctors declared him brain dead. 

In passing on, Honnappa managed to give four others a fresh lease of life. Through a counsellor, doctors at BGS Apollo Hospital explained organ harvesting — in this case four organs (excluding kidneys) — to Honnappa’s family. Honnappa’s wife, knowing the pain and trauma that organ failure patients go through, readily agreed.

“My husband was dying, but at least his organs would help four others,” said Lakshmi Devi, the 27-year-old widow of Honnappa. “We had gone through a lot when my husband’s kidneys failed and I understand the importance of organs. I know the pain. So I readily agreed to donate when the doctors suggested harvesting.”

While Honnappa was a driver, Lakshmi works as a finishing checker in a garment factory in Dasarahalli where they resided. With Honnappa falling ill, the couple struggled to make ends meet as a majority of their earnings were spent on dialysis. Their children, sons aged 12 and 10 years, study in a nearby convent which generously waived school fees.

Over the last three years, Honnappa visited various dialysis centres and finally ended up at BGS Apollo. One day in the last week of April, when he went for his weekly dialysis, his blood pressure was unusually high that morning. During the process, he fell unconscious. Doctors found that he had suffered from blood clotting in the brain. Even after a week in the ICU, he showed no signs of recovering and was eventually declared brain dead.

“We had spent 60,000 on his treatment and doctors explained to us that he would not have survived,’’ said Lakshmi. On May 3, Honnappa’s corneas, liver and a heart valve were harvested. While both corneas were sent to Lions Club eye bank, the heart valve was given to Narayana Hrudayalaya and liver to a patient waiting for a transplant.

For coordinators at the Zonal Coordination Committee of Karnataka (ZCCK), who facilitate the process of cadaver transplantation and act as a nodal agency between the donor’s family and hospitals, the case was touching. “The patient himself needed a kidney transplant, but in his death, he gave life to four others. His wife is a very generous person who, even in her profound grief, graciously agreed,” said a coordinator.

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