A 17-year-old Leeds boy is hoping the New Year will signal a new start for him after a second lifesaving kidney transplant proved a success.
Akash Suryavansi, from Harehills, was born with polycystic kidney disease and after years of dialysis and an earlier transplant from his mother Tina, the teenager’s donated organ began to fail earlier this year.
His desperate wait for a second transplant saw his health deteriorate rapidly from July, with 12-hour days of dialysis taking their toll and leading him to suffer a stroke in October.
Doctors eventually gave the youngster’s dad Aky the go-ahead to donate one of his kidneys in November but following the complex procedure, Akash’s body began to reject the new organ before Christmas.
Tina, who works for Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, has revealed that following an anxious few weeks her son appears to have weathered the storm after he was plied with steroids and anti-rejection drugs to rescue his kidney.
“It’s the best Christmas present we could have hoped for,” she said. “He’s drinking normally, he’s got his energy back and he’s looking better and putting weight on.”
“We are just grateful top have come through the last 12 months as a family.
“It has been traumatic with the stroke and everything else – it was an added thing we have never dealt with before.”
She explained that Akash, who suffered some memory loss through his stroke, is now progressing well at home and is in temporary isolation until March to steer him clear of infection, which is an increased risk due to the nature of his transplant.
When Akash first needed a transplant 11 years ago both parents volunteered to be donors but Aky was rejected because his blood group did not match his son’s.
But these ABO-incompatible transplants are now possible with the use of drugs to suppress the immune system.
The average wait for a kidney transplant in Yorkshire is 1,114 days but due to a shortage of donors from ethnic minorities, Akash could have been made to wait a year longer without Aky’s donation. And with the teenager’s health hitting rock bottom, his family saw an immediate transplant as the only option.
Tina added: “Next year is going to be a new start – it’s his third chance at life.
“We’ve had a lovely, big family Christmas this year and Akash is just enjoying being well. He’s back to his normal self.”
The shocking statistics around organ donation, particularly within ethnic minority communities, encouraged the family to support The Yorkshire Post-backed Be A Hero organ donation campaign, which was launched by Leeds Teaching Hospitals, earlier this year.
Aimed at urging more people in Yorkshire to sign the NHS Organ Donor Register, it generated a massive response. More than 27,000 people in the county put their names down as potential organ donors in Be A Hero’s first three months.
Tina has pledged to continue to support the campaign, with the family planning to tackle a Tough Mudder challenge in August and Tina signing up to two half marathons in 2016 to raise funds for LTH’s Leeds Children’s Transplant Team.
Former Roundhay School pupil Akash, who hopes to return to college to study child care in the spring, is also aiming to take part in the annual British Transplant Games next year.
“We want to continue with organ donation awareness and that’s still at the top of our agenda and always will be,” Tina added.