08 June 2012
City docs say they have been witnessing several cases of failed transplants after patients resort to medication prescribed by quacks
Six months after 25-year-old Abhishek Kamble was detected with Chronic Kidney Disease (the gradual loss of kidney function), doctors at Jaslok Hospital found the perfect donor in his mother, after which he underwent a successful kidney transplant in April. Though things seemed fine at first, Kamble’s kidney suddenly started shutting down one day after the transplant. The doctors struggled to find out what could have caused the problem, until they realised what had happened: Kamble had been taking 18 tablets of ayurvedic medicine a day, causing heavy metal depositions in his body, which had triggered the shut down of his kidney.
Doctors across the city have been witnessing several cases of kidney transplants being affected due to patients taking ayurvedic medication prescribed by quacks while waiting for a kidney donor. “I have three more patients with kidney ailments whose conditions have worsened because they were on ayurvedic medication. There is nothing wrong with ayurvedic treatment, but what is worrying is that some patients tend to consult quacks who give them medicines without proper investigations. Instead of improving their condition, these medicines end up making things worse,” said Dr Mohan Bahadur, nephrologist at Jaslok Hospital, who was treating Kamble.
Abhishek Kamble had undergone many dialysis treatments before his transplant. “I read an advertisement about a Pune-based ayurvedic doctor who promised that the number of dialyses would reduce with his medication. So I decided to try it,” said Kamble.
Despite the medication, Kamble was on dialysis thrice a week. The adverse effect of this treatment was that his levels of creatinine (a product filtered out of the blood by the kidneys) kept shooting up. Kamble, however, continued to take the tablets.
When Kamble’s kidney shut down a day after the seemingly successful transplant, his doctors were puzzled. “Kamble responded extremely well to the transplant. On the first day, he passed 10 litres of urine and his kidney functions were normal. We didn’t know what went worng,” said Dr Bahadur.
The doctors first thought it was a post-transplant Acute Tubular Necrosis (ATN) – a condition in which the transplanted kidney fails to function.
“However, in most cases the patient recovers from ATN within a week or two. In Kamble’s case, the kidney just did not respond for a month, leaving us completely puzzled. We did three biopsies and everything seemed to be fine as far as the transplant was concerned,” added Dr Bahadur.
It was then that the doctors probed Kamble’s parents who told them he had been on ayurvedic medication which he stopped only a fortnight before his surgery. The tablets Kamble was taking contained heavy metals like lead, arsenic, mercury, gold which had got deposited in Kamble’s body and slowed down recovery.
Kamble was kept under observation till the metals were flushed out of his body.
WHAT IS DIALYSIS?
Dialysis is a process for removing the waste and excess water from the blood – process that is normally carried out by the kidneys. Dialysis is an artificial replacement when the kidneys are non functional.
WHAT IS CREATININE?
Creatinine is produced by the body depending on the muscle mass in the body and is filtered out of the blood by the kidneys. Functional kidneys ensure normal creatinine levels up 1.5mg/dl. Non functional kidneys or a kidney disease would mean a rise in creatinine level.
Doctors realized that the ayurvedic medicines that Abhishek Kamble had been taking daily had triggered the rejection of the kidney donated by his mother