Prof Vijay Naraynsingh

MAKING MEDICAL

HISTORY: Prof Vijay Naraynsingh

More people should consider becoming kidney donors as they can potentially save someone’s life and the procedure carries little risk to them.

This according to Prof Vijay Naraynsingh, who led a team of young doctors that performed a successful kidney transplant on Wednesday at the Medical Associates private hospital in St Joseph.

The procedure was the first kidney transplant to be done at the facility in 14 years, Narayansingh said.

Naraynsingh is well-known for his work in vascular and renal surgeries.

He established an emergency vascular surgery service at the Port of Spain General Hospital in 1984 and was involved in establishing renal transplantation in Trinidad and Tobago.

He was involved in the first renal transplant conducted in this country in 1988 and has performed many more throughout the years.

But Naraynsingh said the facility stopped conducting kidney transplants 14 years ago with the introduction of a transplant unit in the public healthcare system.

He said patients who were in need of a kidney transplant were referred to the Mt Hope hospital’s transplant unit which was Government-funded and a better option for some.

But he said he has received numerous requests to do the procedure over the years.

“Lots of people have come and asked me to do transplants again and I finally said I should start back because people are suffering,” he said.

Naraynsingh performed the surgery on Wednesday on a man whose daughter was the donor.

The surgery was a success with the donor being discharged less than 48 hours later.

The recipient is also well on the way to recovery and is already up and moving about, Naraynsingh said.

“Because we did it laparoscopically, without big cuts, the donor was mobile by the next morning and this is the second morning and she is home. It was done very quickly with minimal scarring. And because the donor and the recipient is related and there was a match, the outcome is extremely good. His kidney function is excellent.”

The gift of

a normal life ► sub-head ◄

But the recipient is one of the lucky ones, Naraynsingh noted, as there is generally a lengthy wait time for a patient in need of a kidney transplant to find a matching donor.

He said this is why more people should get on board and be willing to be donors and contrary to what some might believe, donating a kidney does not affect health or quality of life.

“People should be encouraged to donate to their relatives because the disability from donating a kidney is almost nil. You can run, play sports, run a marathon, whatever you wish to do...and the quality of life it gives to the patient is phenomenal.”

Naraynsingh said some patients awaiting kidney transplants have to have dialysis treatments three times a week for the rest of their lives.

“You can give them 25 years without dialysis so they can live a perfectly normal life and restore them to some sense of normalcy. So we should look at making a move towards encouraging organ donation. There are many people waiting on transplants but not enough donors.”

A person can sign up to become an organ donor after death, which Naraynsingh noted is legal in Trinidad and Tobago.

“The legislation was passed in the 1990s and since then there have been cadaveric organ donation but the supply of that is limited.”

If you’re wondering what a kidney transplant would cost at a private hospital, Naraynsingh said there is no set figure as the cost can vary.

“It is widely variable from person to person because of the range of drugs and treatment, it will have to be individualised. But it is certainly way less than abroad, where it is about a quarter million US dollars, which is about $1.5 million.”

Naraynsingh’s career has spanned more than four decades, 33 of which he has spent performing renal transplants.

He has performed many renal transplants and has never lost a patient.

Despite this track record, he says he may not be doing the procedure for much longer as he believes it is time for young doctors to take over the reins.

“Having had 100 per cent success, I think it’s time for me to retire,” he said. “We have such a well-trained young team and I am optimistic that they will do well.”

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