By Monica Laganparsad The Times Johannesburg,Gauteng,South Africa
Twenty-five years ago when organ transplants were new and rare, a Durban woman took the bold step of donating her kidney to her ailing brother.
Yesterday, siblings Madanathan Reddy, 57, and Savi Pillay, 64, celebrated the 25th anniversary of their milestone transplant.
In 1983, Pillay became the country’s first kidney donor and her brother the first recipient.
“I was very sick and had a 50/50 chance of surviving. I could barely walk and without the transplant I would not be here today,” said Reddy, a father of four.
Unable to see her brother suffering, Pillay, despite her apprehension, decided to donate her kidney.
She said: “I was scared because taking an organ from one person to give to another was something strange to us.”
The siblings were flown to Cape Town’s Groote Schuur hospital for the transplant.
“My sister would not have been able to do it if it wasn’t for her late husband.
“He was supportive. Back then many husbands would not have allowed their wives to take that step. And she wasn’t a perfect match, it was about 85%, but she did it anyway” said Reddy.
Pillay said she left her three children in the care of her husband and late mother.
“My youngest son was only two years old and I left him. But I was so worried about my brother.”
Reddy said his operation took seven hours while Pillay spent four hours in surgery.
“The staff and doctors at the hospital were so wonderful ... when I flew back, they had a wheelchair waiting for me at the airport. But I refused to sit in it.
“I was perfectly fine after that,” said Reddy.
The siblings said their wheelchair-bound mother had helped to make their recovery easier.
“She prayed for our speedy recovery. She took a vow and fulfilled it until the day she died,” said Pillay.
Three months after the operation, the siblings returned to work and today both are healthy, although they have to undergo regular checkups by their doctors. They will celebrate the milestone with a small family gathering.
“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants. One tissue donor can help up to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves