The call from Sahyadri Hospital, Pune came at 4 pm on September 4, 2016.
They had a brain dead patient whose family was ready to donate.
Could I make it to Pune in 3 hours by road?
We said YES and booked the cab.
Ironically, Sahyadri was last on our list of hospitals, but the call came from them.
I was fourth on their list. The first was a Philippino, whose wife was travelling. Number 2 & 3 were Maharashtrians, who had installed Ganpati, the elephant-headed deity at their home, a centuries-old tradition in the State, which my sister, although from a different state also observes, so they declined.
After a moment’s pause, my sister, Poonam, said yes on the phone.
I’d just come back from the spa, after a body massage. My brother-in-law, Arun, broke the news to me and, scared shit, I broke down.
My daughter, sensing something amiss, came and put her head in my lap.
I said “yes.”
In 20 minutes, we were packed, and the cab was waiting downstairs – Arun, Poonam and I were going.
Just then, a friend from Dubai, who had specially taken a connecting flight via Mumbai to come and meet me, dropped in. We talked, hugged for barely 5 minutes and were off.
My youngest sister, Mona, and her husband, Vishal, boarded their flight to Pune from Delhi.
The drive to Pune, via the Mumbai-Pune expressway was non-stop and we were at Sahyadri in time.
During the video consent taking, Dr Anurag, explained to us that the cadaveric liver was marginal of a 71-year old gentleman, whose identity cannot be revealed. Are we ready to go ahead?
We nodded yes. He explained that they would first operate on the cadaver, then wheel me inside the Operation Theatre.
(Pray, why do they call it a Theatre?).
My surgeon, Dr Bipin Vibhute, came to introduce himself with a mask on, at the (OT) gate.
Next came his second-in-command Dr Manish, masked, gowned and gloved, who explained the procedure to me and I interrupted with, “I don’t want to be on the ventilator for longer than two days. If anything goes wrong, please declare me brain dead and give all my organs away.”
Dr Manish choose to answer me bluntly and obliquely.
“I have 15 patients after you on that list. Are you ready to go into surgery or not?”
Summoning courage, that I did not feel, I nodded yes.
That was it. I had no consciousness of the clockwork precision with which the surgery happened.
All I was told later was that what usually takes between 10-12 hours, took 6 hours in my case and I was out of the OT.
“You are lucky,” said the OT assistant, Rahul later, “The tumour sitting huge on the main hepatic artery came out intact. Had it ruptured or spread to other parts of the body, you would have been off the transplant list.”
To date, I haven’t had the courage to look at my liver’s picture. Maybe one day, I will. Meanwhile my new liver is getting friendlier with my other
internal organs and I am aware of that.
Post surgery, my recovery is slow but more of that later. The next blog would be on my experience s at this incredible place called Sahyadri and the incredible liver transplant team there.
Since I am using my smartphone – OnePlus One to type this blog, forgive all typos, medical bloomers etc. I am no doctor.
My surgeon later shared a story. He said the world’s first transplant was done on the elephant-headed Ganpati, so I actually had the surgery performed on a very auspicious day