For those who thought COVID-19 was the end of the world, a story from Kolkata would change their mind. A Bangladeshi woman has donated a kidney to her son who was in an advanced stage of renal failure. The transplant took place in Kolkata on July 3. Yes, this has happened before, many times over. But never before in India at least were both the donor and the recipient COVID-19 survivors.
A mother's love, that's what gave 65-year-old Kalpana Ghosh the will to donate a kidney to son Uttam despite her age and despite both of them having to battle against the life-threatening coronavirus infection before they could undergo the life-saving kidney transplant.
"I am very brave, didi. I thought now that I've begun swimming, I will cross the river. I made up my mind that I will return to Dhaka with my son," said Kalpana Ghosh.
Her son seconded that. "My mother's courage got us through the double blow. First the need to transplant her kidney and then both of us testing positive. We spent 10 days in the COVID-19 government hospital MR Bangur. Her courage gave me strength," said Uttam.
For doctors, too, it was a dual challenge - an organ transplant in pandemic times and on COVID-19 survivors.
The mother and son had come from Dhaka to the private RN Tagore Hospital in January. Getting permissions for the transplant took time. By the time the government gave its nod, the lockdown had set in. And then in June, on the eve of surgery, they tested positive for coronavirus.
"So far I know, this is the first case in which both donor and recipient in an organ transplant were coronavirus survivors," said Dr Deepak Shankar Ray, head of the nephrology department who conducted the transplant.
"In the age of despair and gloominess, this is good news. We can probably live with COVID-19, which we have to do. And we can probably perform our usual work (services) for our patients in the pandemic days too," Dr Shankar said.
That is indeed a silver lining to the coronavirus cloud. Now discharged from hospital, the mother and her son will return to Dhaka after staying under medical observation for three months or so.