MIKE MUGALA, Lusaka
JOB Kasweshi was sceptical when his brother Tinashe decided to donate a kidney to him.
His worry was that Tinashe would have medical complications in future if the kidney was not going to be compatible with his.
Job thought he needed to give his brother more time to reflect and be convinced that he was making the right decision after the kidney transplant was conducted.
His kidney problem started in 2013 when he was in Ukraine pursuing medical studies, though he was treated there and felt better.
In 2017, the problem resurfaced and this time was more critical and the only solution was a kidney transplant.
Tinashe on the other hand took two months to think about donating the kidney to his brother.
Initially, he was calm and relaxed as it did not cross his mind that he would donate his kidney to Job.
It was their father who was supposed to donate but he was advised against it on account of his age.
The doctors’ concerns were that their father’s kidney would not be compatible because of his age.
Tinashe says though he was caught unaware, there was no other person who could donate a kidney to Job.
He was gripped with fear but the urge to help his brother drove him on.
“It was challenging. I had very little time to decide. It was optional. Other than dad, it was only I who could donate. We were all sad and devastated about the whole situation as a family,” he said.
He says he could not watch his brother frequent the hospital for dialysis.
Tinashe’s brother’s problem almost began to eat him up and he could no longer stand to see Job waking up at 03:00 hours in the morning three times a week to go to the hospital for dialysis.
What was more important to him was his brother’s well-being.
It was time to muster courage and strength to go for surgery after he underwent counselling.
“I never thought about dying when I was going for the surgery. I think for me, it was a relief because we were tired of going to the hospital frequently. I had examinations a month before the surgery, my focus was to write examinations because I never used to study,” Tinashe said.
His concern was how long it would take him to heal before his post graduate law examinations.
Though some of his friends discouraged him that he might die in the process, Tinashe did not change his position.
And it was that on October 24, Zambia recorded a milestone achievement when the first ever successful kidney transplant was conducted.
The surgery was conducted by a combined team of surgeons from Zambia and India led by Dr Michael Mbambiko.
Now Job is happy that his brother Tinashe sacrificed his life to donate a kidney for him.
He says he would do the same if his brother was in a similar situation.
“My life has now gone back to normal and I am healthier than I used to be. I no longer have hypertension which was a common situation before,” he said.
He says his kidneys are functioning normally and that he no longer has to worry about going for dialysis.
Tinashe says he has fully recovered and is able to run and play football without any challenges.
However, he says he is watching his lifestyle in order to avoid problems on his only remaining kidney.
“I watch what I eat and I am trying by all means not to gain weight so that I don’t cause any damage to my kidney,” Tinashe said.
To his friends, Tinashe is a hero after he successfully donated his kidney to his brother.
He said most of his friends are encouraged and inspired by the step he took.
Tinashe says more people should come forward and donate their kidneys to save lives.
He says most people find it difficult to come forward and donate their kidneys because they are scared for their lives.
“It is normal to be scared. I was also scared in the first place because I did not know what would come out of the operation. But I took a step after I found out it is possible to live a normal life with one kidney,” Tinashe said.
Job on the other hand says there is need for the Ministry of Health to conduct massive sensitisation on kidney transplant.
He said most of the people withdraw at the last minute due to lack of information on the matter and public misconception surrounding the matter.
The pair thank president Lungu for the support and encouragement during their stay in hospital.
They also thank minister of health Chitalu Chilufya and the combined team of surgeons from Zambia and India who operated on them.
Catherine Kasweshi, their mother, initially felt bad about the situation but there was nothing she could do.
She was, however, optimistic that Tinashe would donate his kidney to Job because he was willing even before their father came forward.
“It was not easy at first because he is very young, but there was nothing I could do. I prayed about it and left everything in the hands of God,” Catherine says.
She says it was not easy having two children being operated on in the theatre at the same time.
Renal transplant surgeon at the adult hospital Michael Mbambiko says one kidney is enough for a person to live a normal life.
“You just need one kidney, even one kidney is more than enough to clean up the body, regulate water levels and formation of blood,” he said.
He advises that kidney transplant is the best form of renal replacement and that there are no major complications on both the donor and the recipient.
He says Tinashe and Job are a shining example and that more people should feel encouraged to donate their kidney.
“I want to clear the misconception surrounding kidney transplant in society. It is not a scary process. People who conduct kidney transplant are more trained and qualified, there is no need to fear therefore,” Dr Mbambiko said.
MIKE MUGALA, Lusaka