Thursday, November 09, 2006

It really is a small world...

One morning, quite a few weeks ago, a situation that usually careens into the zone populated by stony faces and pained silences recurred here at home. "What's your plan today?", I was asked. Despite it not being on the lines of the quip/advice a professor (she told those curious enough to ask her that her daily routine was "I taught, I read, and I wrote"), let me in on some months ago I'm sure there were a few of the usual nefarious activities planned out. (Haha. As if. :-( ]

Some further probing by/on both sides revealed what was actually going on. Being worried about what my plan might be, I had of course not been told that someone close-yet-not-painfully-close had been hospitalized, and it was time for transfusions to begin. The search was for a little over a dozen units of A-negative blood, and word was being disseminated through all channels available. Being friends of this family, we too were nodes through which this paigaam (correct word?) had been sent out. The patient (maybe by the time this blogpost ends, the exceptional irony of that word will become evident...) had contracted a strain of Hepatitis, and needed a liver transplant.

Having recently been cut off from 'spaces' where such an appeal might be made, I asked three friends, all of whom, coincidentally, live and work in the vicinity of universities. One (F1) didn't reply; a second (F2) tried, but was unsuccessful, and the third (F3) found one willing donor, who was A-negative.

I don't know how to prolong this post but one of the incredible events that occured during this whole episode was getting to know my real blood group. It's strange, when for about a decade you've depended on this kind of knowledge, and suddenly a cheerful nurse says, "ok Mr. B-negative, go to Room 23 and wait your turn."

In the long tradition of cracking bad PJ's, the only thing I can think of is how much I need to be positive, while be(ing) negative.

To return to the guiding thread of "it's a small world"... it turned out that F3's connection was a guy I happened to have met.
We realized while coordinating who/where/how to reach over the phone that we'd played basketball, on opposing teams, only a few weeks earlier! While he was a regular, and I was trying to get back after years, the condition of the court really ruined any chance of game. A surface worse than mid-monsoon roads, the concrete was gravelly. What might've been a minor fall elsewhere - a "arrey kuch nahin... abey game kyon rok ke rakkha hai, shuru kar yaar, shoot maar" - drew enough blood from my left knee to give the sock and shoe a dirty light-red blood-tinge that will never wash off. We'd hardly played with each other (just once, with me checking someone else), and here this guy was. "Not knowing me from Dickens", he was tested thrice over, and willing to, on the day of the transplant, have his blood piped through a machine that extracted his healthy platelets, for them to be fed into the patient.

A day before the big operation, we got word that the doctors had rejected the organ donor. It needed to be a blood relative, or the whole thing might fall through. And after that, we slowly lost touch :-( What do you say to someone whose brother is just weeks away from death?

To veer headfirst into oncoming traffic, into the lane proclaiming "it's a small world", here's how this post ends. The only possible donor who was medically acceptable refused to part with (t)he(i)r liver, even while knowing that it's an organ that's supposed to be surprisingly regenerative.

We learnt two days ago that death finally occurred, after a domino-theory-like multiple organ failure.

It was the patient's daughter who had refused.


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