Brother who gave kidney to sibling calls for an end to organ donation 'taboo' (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Paramedic Mohammed Islam, 37, was told to ask relative for organ because of shortage of suitable South Asian donors
A paramedic from the district whose life was saved when his brother donated a kidney is urging people from his community to be organ donors.
Mohammed Islam, from Buttershaw, was so ill that both of his kidneys were in danger of failing when he received the vital and precious gift from his younger brother, Fiaz.
Daily dialysis treatment was keeping him alive and the chances of finding a kidney match were slim due to a lack of South Asian donors.
“At that point, if I’d not had that donation or the dialysis, I would have died. Both kidneys would eventually have stopped working,” said Mohammed.
His problems started with high blood pressure, before blood tests revealed abnormalities in October 2011.
“I was referred to Halifax and went to see the consultant. He said it was something that needed investigating, but nothing to be alarmed about,” said the 37-year-old.
He was told a biopsy was needed and he would be seen again in ten weeks.
“I went back to work and got a phone call saying for me to go and see a doctor and go straight to St James’s. My kidney function was down to 19 per cent.
“It was something I didn’t expect from having a biopsy to have some investigation, to be told that you’re literally on the verge of dialysis,” he said.
The paramedic was diagnosed with an immune disorder which affected his kidneys.
“It wasn’t a case of if I was going on dialysis, it was a case of when. I was scared for my health and the impact it would have on my life.”
Mohammed had to have time off work, was exhausted and suffered severe back pain.
“After the diagnosis, things started to make sense about how I felt and how I’d been feeling. Your kidneys can go quite a long way before you start to get any symptoms,” he said.
“You can carry on with normal day-to-day stuff, if you can call it normal.”
He went on the transplant list in June 2012, and started dialysis in the September, when his kidney function fell to about 12 per cent.
He opted to have treatment at home, peritoneal dialysis – when a tube was inserted to his abdomen and received the life-saving procedure to flush his kidneys out through the night, every night.
An off-road role was found for Mohammed with Yorkshire Ambulance Service but he still had to have time off work.
“Being on dialysis, it has a massive impact on your day. It was every single day, it took between six and eight hours,” he said.
“I thought, God, is this what life is going to be? You don’t want to get down about it, it’s really hard to stay positive.
“With my ethnicity some people can stay on the list for years, but I had the disadvantage of having a rare blood type group and people from the Asian community don’t donate. That’s obviously an issue that they discussed with me.”
It was suggested that he approach relatives to ask if they would consider be a live kidney donor.
“But how do you broach that subject? What do you say? It’s not like asking for a cup of sugar or ‘can you lend me a tenner’,” Mohammed said.
Mohammed’s brother, Fiaz and sister, Famina Jan, both offered to be tested to see if they were a match.
“They kept offering and I just said no and they shouldn’t have to go through that because of my misfortune,” he said.
But Mohammed relented when Fiaz, 30, was found to be a match.
Fiaz had various tests to make sure he was a suitable donor and mentally prepared, before the transplant surgery in July in Leeds.
The IT worker said seeing his brother’s health deteriorate was “unbearable”.
“I insisted it was something that I wanted to do,” he said.
“Nothing is certain when you’re on the transplant list.
“He could be waiting a year, he could have been waiting for years. I couldn’t see him on the list getting more ill.”
The transplant was a success, Mohammed’s health has improved dramatically and he returned to work this month.
He wants more people from his community to think about organ donation.
“Some people say it’s because of their religion [that they do not donate] and God doesn’t allow it. But which God would want you to die and what God wouldn’t want you to help people?
“If you could help someone by giving them a gift like that, why wouldn’t you do it? It’s about making a sacrifice to each other.”
Fiaz said organ donation was a “taboo” subject within the Asian community. “And it has been for a number of years. I think more awareness does need to be raised on the importance of helping others if you can.
“You’d be making a better life for somebody else if you’re willing to help and donate and make a real difference,” he said.
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