Kochi (Kerala), April 12 (IANS) Thirty-year-old Rasad Muhammad would never have thought that his desperate search for a kidney would end in a bus journey.
Muhammad, whose both kidneys have failed, was on his way to a hospital here for dialysis Feb 25 when he met 41-year-old Catholic priest K. Sebastian, who was sitting next to him in the bus.
After chatting for a while, the Christian priest came to know about Muhammad's travails and much to his disbelief offered him his kidney for free.
"I was under severe mental pressure because both my kidneys have stopped functioning. I was on my way to hospital for dialysis. After we started talking and I told him (Sebastian) about my trouble, the first question he asked me was: 'if I give you my kidney, will you accept?'" Muhammad told IANS.
When contacted, Sebastian was at the hospital here where the kidney transplant will be performed. He was accompanied by Muhammad's father Muhammad Kunju.
Muhammad used to work in a shop in Saudi Arabia and returned to India after his kidneys failed.
"When I heard that this young man was forced out of Saudi Arabia after he went blind in December last year, I felt that I could help him by donating one of my kidneys," Sebastian said.
However, it was not an instant decision. "It was at the back of my mind for a while that given an opportunity I would help a person by donating my kidney. When I met this young Muslim youth in the bus, it turned out to be a god-sent opportunity for both of us," Sebastian added.
"I felt his life was ending and I decided that it would be worth while if I could give him a new life through my efforts. I seized the opportunity. The very next day I phoned him and the day after reported for a medical check-up," the priest said.
But Muhammad did not believe Sebastian when he said he would phone him.
"Honestly, when the priest said that he would call me I did not believe it fully. But the call came the very next day and I could not believe it. Soon things started moving fast and the results of all the tests for the transplant have been positive," he said.
Sebastian added that he had to get the consent of his family too. His father immediately gave him the nod and thereafter he met Bishop Mar Mathew Arackal.
"The bishop gave me his blessings. We are now awaiting the mandatory clearance from the state medical board which is expected to come later this month. Since all the medical tests are positive, the clearance is only a formality and the transplant is likely to take place in May," Sebastian said.
Muhammad said the noble gesture of the priest has become a talking point in his home town Haripad in Alappuzha district.
"This has opened the eyes of many. I wish members of my community will come forward to at least help their relatives, who are in desperate need of organs," said Muhammad.
He said the surgery would cost Rs.500,000 and that his friends and well wishers were chipping in to make it possible.
(Sanu George can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)