WHEN six-month-old Nuranis Balqis Al-Huda had to undergo surgery for intussusception (a rare, serious disorder in which the inner segment of the intestine has been pushed into another segment below it) three years ago, her father, Ahmad Khariri Al Hadi Mohd Yusof, spent many panic-stricken hours sourcing for funds and praying for her life.
Out of Ahmad’s experience was borne a determination to help other families with chronically ill children.
His selfless act of donating part of his liver to the late 11-month-old Mohd Yohitt Mohd Farhan has been well documented, and was recognised with the Malidur Rasul S.A.W. award during the celebrations this week.
“I did not expect to be rewarded or recognised, but I am thankful for the honour,” says Khariri, who confides that receiving the RM3,000 prize money is timely as his wife is expecting their third child in May.
Khariri has not been working since he underwent surgery to donate part of his liver in December.
“I was working in a chemical factory, and doctors advised that it was better for me not to risk exposure to the fumes and dust. I also cannot lift heavy things. I was on medical leave for a while, and then I resigned in March to look for another job,” says the 28-year-old father of two.
He gets tired more easily these days, Khariri says, but his health has not been affected by the liver transplant. He was fully aware of the risks of being a living organ donor, including the possibility of dying while on the operating table. (Doctors prefer to do cadaveric transplants in view of the risks and difficulty in operations involving living donors.)
Furthermore, Khariri was an unrelated donor. Organ donation from those not related to the patient are vetted stringently to prevent unethical practices such as illegal harvesting of organs and illicit sale of organs.
“When I agreed to be a living organ donor, I did not know what I was getting into. But I was thoroughly informed by the time I went into surgery. I had to go through two evaluation processes – by a psychiatrist, and by a panel from the Health Ministry. They had to be sure that I understood the risks, and that I was not under pressure to do this, or was being paid for my organ,” says Khariri, who also had to convince his wife and mother to give him their blessings for the risky operation.
“We were fortunate because my employers paid for our daughter’s surgery which cost nearly RM10,000, and she recovered fully. I now know what parents of sick children go through, and I want to help.
“I was also worried about the transplant because I have two daughters and my wife is pregnant. But my sympathy for Yohitt overcame all that.”
He had earlier volunteered to help another patient, Nur Atiqah Najwa, but the 15-month-old baby died before the scheduled liver transplant.
Even though Yohitt died from complications arising from his follow-up treatment 43 days after the transplant, Khariri feels his sacrifice has not been in vain.
“It was a loss to us because Yohitt was like a son to me. I did what I could to save him, the rest we leave in God’s hands,” says Khariri whose main concerns now are to look for another job and resume his interrupted diploma studies in Public Administration at UiTM.
o Although nearly 85,000 people have pledged their organs, only a handful of these pledges are fulfilled. Between 1976 and February 2005, only 143 have donated their organs.
No Malaysian has donated lungs, kidneys, livers or any other organs in the first three months of the year. According to the National Transplant Resource Centre, four patients are in need of lung transplants, 25 in urgent need of liver transplants and more than 5,000 need kidney transplants.
Those wishing to pledge their organs or donate organs of dead relatives can contact the National Transplant Resource Centre at toll free number 1800-88-9080 or 03-2694 2704/5.
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