08 March 2012
By Alifiya Khan
When 30–year–old Vaibhav Kamble was diagnosed with renal failure, he had been given two options — remain on painful dialysis forever or arrange for a donor and get a kidney transplant.
The Dhanori resident didn’t have to look too far as his mother was happy to make the sacrifice for her son and he found a willing donor.
However, the case of Riddhi Sidhwani (name changed) is tragic. The 36–year–old housewife from Kalyaninagar had to suffer the double whammy of failed kidneys as well as her husband’s refusal to donate a kidney to save his wife. Her in–laws supported his decision to save the ‘breadwinner’ of the family.
These cases are only indicative of a larger trend, that women always take the lead in kidney donations. Statistics obtained from major city hospitals show that in more than 70% cases, the homemaker and not the breadwinner donate their organs.
Of the roughly 26 kidney transplants conducted at Aditya Birla Memorial Hospital in 2011, the number of women donors is 21 while men account for only 5 donations.
At Ruby Hall Clinic, 48 kidney transplants took place in which 29 donors were women while, only 19 were men.
Vrunda Pusalkar, a social worker at Jehangir Hospital, said 70% kidney donors are women but only 25% women needing kidneys get donors. “When a man has renal failure, it is assumed his mother or wife will donate. In fact, it is not even asked but taken by men for granted that it is his mother or wife’s duty to save his life. But sadly, when it comes to women, we don’t see the same trend of men taking the lead,” she said. Figures obtained from hospitals show that in 2011, a total of 23 women donated their kidneys as against 19 men. Among the recipients, there were 34 men and eight women.
Social worker Surekha Joshi at Ruby Hall Clinic explained that when a woman needs a kidney, the first choice is her mother or father and rarely, her husband volunteers first. “Though I wouldn’t say it doesn’t happen at all, a few men do really care. When a woman donates her kidney, it is out of love and affection. Though the same cannot be said for most men who first try other alternatives like female relatives or women’s parents and donate when no option is available,” said Joshi.
Nephrologist Dr Tarun Jeloka of Aditya Birla Memorial Hospital said that a factor leading to gender bias in kidney donations could be a preference to save the breadwinner.
“One factor could be underlying social pressure on women to take the lead in making a sacrifice. But that is not as prominent as the thought of saving the breadwinner of the family. The entire family is dependent on men for their needs and hence, when while they get first priority when it comes to receiving donors, they are considered last when it comes to making kidney donations. This is because they want to put him at least risk as if anything happens to him, the entire family gets affected especially, financially,” said Dr Jeloka.