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Indian Roots Beckon From Africa

Verified By Dr Smita Malhotra June 15, 2021 1180 0

An NRI woman travels all alone with her son for his liver transplant in her homeland

“Maanvan, thandian chaavan” goes a popular saying in Punjabi that describes a mother as a shade that cools and protects from the sweltering heat. Search for this solace was perhaps what brought this young lady, hardly in her mid-twenties, to her homeland India. Born and brought up in South Africa, she was of Gujarati lineage. Her parents had migrated before she was born but distances only bring hearts closer. As she landed in India, uncles and aunts,  gathered around her to cuddle her infant son, Hamza.

Hamza was a happy baby, his large round eyes lit up as he was showered with gifts, his “shagun”. His mother’s eyes, however, were sad as she looked at him- he was perfect but only for his deeply yellow eyes….

Hamza had jaundice since a few days after birth as he suffered from biliary atresia that had caused his liver failure. Why a child develops biliary atresia soon after birth, medical science has yet to fathom. All we know is that it’s universally fatal unless a partially corrective surgery is done within 2 months of life. The success rate for this surgery varies and liver transplant has over the last few decades revolutionalised the management of this otherwise dismal disease by providing the only definitive cure. Hamza’s corrective surgery had failed and his mother had come to her motherland seeking life for her son from the land that gave her hers.

Her husband had stayed back to look after their other 2 children and her relatives from Gujarat were her pillar of support here. If God had given her this challenge, he had also bestowed her with tremendous support. She was fortunate to have a family that was so closely knit, it was her sister’s husband who came forward to donate a part of his liver as she and her husband had been rejected as potential donors on medical grounds.

Moving from one hospital corridor to the other, she held his hand tightly as Hamza went through the tests and assessments.  Her soft voice and calm eyes spoke volumes for her inner strength as she watched her son being wheeled in for the transplant. Her usually difficult to restrain little one was engulfed in tubings, deep asleep under the effect of anesthesia when he returned after the 10 hour surgery. But he would soon return to his naughty self as his anesthesia effect wore off. He was off the ventilator within a few hours, smiling reassuringly at his mother. It was as if he could sense the turmoil in her heart that she concealed from the outer world. 

Like mother, like son. Hamza was a brave little lad and would cry briefly when pricked for blood samples and then return to his calm demeanor. Only hunger would unsettle him and he was cheerful once feeds were started 3 days after the surgery. He became the darling of the nurses who wouldn’t tire of playing with him.

The Gods favor the humble and Hamza recovered well. He was discharged in 3 weeks time, his eyes perfectly pearly white, carrying only the surgical scar on his tummy as a momento of the terrible illness he was born with and conquered in his native land.

The Clinical Perspective Hamza thankfully did not develop any major complications. He had intermittently high potassium levels for which he required a potassium binder. Hamza easily drank the medication mixed with his feeds and was an exceptionally co-operative and easy to manage baby.
Verified By Dr Smita Malhotra
Consultant Pediatric Gastroenterologist & Hepatologist, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital

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