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Times of India
11 June 2010
By Malathy Iyer
Mumbai, India

Dr Rushi DesphandeDr Rushi Desphande
Decades ago,just about a plane was about to take off for Muscat,Sebastian Silveira got off the aircraft as he was too scared to take the flight.I got mighty scared at the moment of takeoff, said the 76–year–old Wadala resident,admitting that he gets jittery easily.But a week ago,he did the bravest thing in his life: he underwent a surgery to donate one of his kidneys to his first–born.

We would always talk about how scared our father always is,but he came good at the most crucial juncture of our lives, says his younger son,Rodslie Silveria.The recipient,Dylan,could only manage a muffled my dad saved my life through the mask that he has to wear for another month to protect himself from getting infected.

Actually,Sebastian has done more: he is among the handful of 70–year–olds fit enough to donate a kidney.Though it is believed that people who are 70 years old should not donate their kidneys,it should not be a blanket rule.Some persons like Silveira are healthy;he doesnt have diabetes or hypertension.Hence,it is not the age of the person,but the condition of his/her kidney that is important, says Dr Rushi Desphande,nephrologist at Jaslok Hospital,who has been treating the Silveiras.

Nephrologist Dr Bharat Shah from Lilavati Hospital in Bandra concurs.Over the past few years,we have had three donors who were above 70 years of age and their recipients are doing well. Ideally,a sibling is the best match for a kidney–failure patient.A sibling would be closer in age than parents.Also the genetic matching would be almost 100%, says Dr Shah.But if a patient doesnt have siblings whose blood parameters match,then an aged parent,even if he/she is more than 70 years old could be considered,provided the parent is healthy.

Sebastin went to Dr Desphande at Jaslok Hospital after he read an article in TOIs December 8,2009,about how a Thane resident,Shailaja Joshi,had donated a kidney at 74 years and seven months to her daughter.

Considering Sebastins age,the Jaslok authorities held a meeting to decide if he was fit to donate a kidney and live healthily after that.Joshi is doing exceptionally well.And even Sebastin was walking around 48 hours after his kidney was retrieved, says Dr Deshpande.

He now plans to present a research paper on the health status of 65–year–plus donors.We have done four donations where the donors are over 65 years old.Sebastin is the oldest,so far, says Dr Deshpande.His aim is to propagate that it isnt the age of the donor,but his/her health that is the most important factor.There is a dearth of donors in our country but kidney problems are rapidly increasing, he adds.New estimates suggest that India adds over 1.5 lakh patients with end–stage renal ailments every year.

A senior doctor,however,warns that all tests should be conducted stringently before allowing such an old donor to give up his/her kidney.All organs age.We have to select the donors well because their health cannot be compromised, he says.

Sebastin is,however,too happy to worry about anything else.I managed to save my son.That is all that matter, he said.

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