x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Recipient stresses quality of life

The young man and the middle-aged woman at the Egyptian airport had two things in common: both had relieved smiles, and both had one of his kidneys.

The young man and the middle-aged woman at the Egyptian airport had two things in common: both had relieved smiles, and both had one of his kidneys. Iman had not known she was only born with one kidney until 15 years ago, when she caught malaria and it stopped working. For that 15 years, every second day she had to go to the hospital and sit with a tube in her arm for three hours while a machine cleaned her blood, allowing her to live.

Without access to an organ donation system, Iman's only options were to have a kidney donated by a relative or pay a stranger for theirs. "It wasn't easy to find a donor. My brother had renal failure and he had a donor from one relative," she said. Unable to hold down a job or to engage in a normal life, it took Iman more than a decade to save the $25,000 (Dh92,000) for the procedure. She found a hospital in Egypt that organised the operation and provided the donor.

"I met with him, the doctors and his entire family and discussed what to do," Iman said. "He was a young man, 23 years old, with a very pleasant personality." She doesn't know how much of the money he received or what he was planning to do with it, although it is unlikely he was paid more than a few thousand dollars. "He was happy and he stayed with me until I left Egypt. He even went with me to the airport to say goodbye."

It has been six months since the successful procedure and Iman already feels the difference. "I spent my most youthful life when I was on dialysis and after the surgery, I felt like I was born again." It did not bother Iman that the operation was illegal. It was better than staying on dialysis indefinitely. Now she receives the necessary care at Tawam Hospital in Al Ain. When asked whether she gave any thought to the young man who will now go through life with one kidney, Iman said: "For this I don't have concerns. My main concern was whether the kidney would work.

"The sum of money I gave to the hospital was to cover all the costs. I don't know? how much he got from that. I don't know what he wanted it for." When they separated at the airport both came away with something. Iman had a new kidney and a new life. The young man had a scar from where they took his organ and perhaps a few thousand dollars in his pocket. amcmeans@thenational.ae