Sajan heaves a sigh of relief, as he shares the news of his wife Lekha’s surgery. On Friday morning, he anxiously stood outside the ICU with hopes desperately pinned on the doctor’s assurance that the operation would not go awry.
“The surgery was 100 percent successful,” he says in a telephonic conversation from MIMS hospital in Kozhikode, where Lekha was admitted last evening for surgery on her spinal cord.
In the course of the next half hour or so, Sajan goes on to share Lekha’s story with The News Minute. Lekha has always been a source of inspiration for many in Kerala.
It was in 2009 that Lekha Namboothiri -a resident of Mavelikkara in Alappuzha district- came across an advertisement from a man seeking kidney donors.
Turning down numerous other lucrative offers for her kidney, she went on to donate one of her kidneys to Shafi from Pattambi who was in dire need of a kidney transplant in 2012.
Everything was normal until two years later when a regional publication got wind of the incident and wanted to publish Lekha’s story. Reluctant at first about the possibility of unwarranted media attention, Lekha and her husband Sajan hesitated to make the matter public.
“These are not things that one would want to take undue credit for. She donated a kidney considering it a humane gesture and not for publicity. I was outright against the matter becoming public, but later obliged to the persuasion of a reporter,” recalls Sajan who works as a driver.
While Lekha saw herself at the receiving end of appreciation from various quarters, the family was simultaneously disturbed about the communal angle that was given to the whole issue, so much so that, more than the act of donating, it was the ‘communal kidney’ that made headlines.
Sajan says that the family had sought consent from Shafi before making the matter public, but he later went on to criticize Lekha after his relatives came to know that the donor belonged to a different religion.
Sajan says that though the family was pained over such misplaced notions of faith, they chose to ignore such comments. “Nobody is concerned about religion when they are on the death bed. It is only later when things come back to normal, that people have time for such frivolous thinking,” Sajan rues.
Though Lekha has had spinal trauma for over a decade now, it was only six months ago that injections started failing to alleviate her from the back-splitting pain and hence surgery was the sole option left. But with dwindling finances and a few doctors expressing doubt regarding complete recovery post surgery, they just couldn’t make up their minds.
In March this year, a family friend took to Facebook to seek financial assistance for the family. And then two months later, the irony of the situation soon made headlines. She was identified as the woman who helped save a life in the past, but now was in such dire financial straits herself, that she had to rethink about her own surgery.
But as they say, karma pays. Sajan is extremely grateful to the numerous people who readily came forward to offer financial assistance which made it possible for Lekha to finally get her surgery done. He now looks forward to a healthy future for his wife.