Devoted daughter Sofia Kamran donated a kidney to her mother, who was suffering from renal failure, and is now working to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation, especially among ethnic minority communities
A daughter who donated a kidney to her mother told her the good news about the transplant on her birthday.
Sofia Kamran’s mum was suffering from renal failure in Pakistan and was worried that she would never find a donor in time.
Her daughter from Lancashire called her on her 60th birthday to tell her she was flying over the next day for the lifesaving operation.
Sofia underwent tests in Pakistan to check she was definitely a match and had the operation a week later. After only three days, she was discharged from hospital to recover at the family home.
The 40-year-old, from Fulwood, now works tirelessly to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation, particularly in the BME (Black, Minority and Ethnic) community. Sofia said it was an easy decision for her to make when her mum Jabeen Ahktar fell ill in 2009 as her uncle had donated a kidney to a family member 25 years before.
Although her family and many of her friends were supportive, some weren’t because of the controversy around organ donation within the Muslim community.
She said: “My uncle was my inspiration. I always knew I would do it if I got the chance. I joined the organ donation register in my early 20s and when we found out my mum was suffering from renal failure, I knew I would do it for her.
“Some people were judgemental, said it wasn’t permissible in Islam and felt sorry for me having to go through such an operation. But I used to say - if your child or family member needed an organ transplant, would you do it.
“Of course they would. But where do they think the donors will come from? For transplants to be available, we need donors from within our own community. The number of people on the transplant list is high but the number of donors on the register from the BME community is the lowest.
“I have a big scar but to me it is beautiful. It reminds me of what I did for my mum. God gave us this body so why wouldn’t use it to help others. I am fit and healthy nine years later. During Ramadan I fast with no problem; I just make sure I drink water when we break the fast. I have never had any problems.”
Sofia had only just had her second child when her mother became ill so had to wait until her child was six months old before she was able to donate.
She said: “Mum was very ill, she could hardly eat anything, and she was very depressed. She kept saying who can do this for me – I said mum, I will. Don’t worry. As soon as I have recovered from the birth, I will do it for you.”
Sofia added that her mum was able to be treated with medication in the meantime but was concerned about the risks from the surgery, especially as her daughter had a young family.
In October 2010, she called her mum to wish her happy birthday and break the news that she was coming over for the operation. She said: “I said my present to you mum is that I am flying over for your operation tomorrow. The flights are booked, it is all arranged. I am donating my kidney to you. I was the best match for her as I was her daughter but I was also the only donor available to her so it was a worrying time if it didn’t work.”
Following the operation, her mum went from strength to strength and was even well enough to come to stay with her for three months and get to know her grandchildren. She said: “I couldn’t believe my eyes the difference. She was up and about, she was able to eat and wasn’t being sick all the time, she was no longer weak and depressed, she had hope. She had a really good quality of life.”
Sadly she died a short time after from a separate illness at the age of 61 but Sofia said it was amazing to see her get a second lease of life. Sofia thanked her husband Dr Kamran Khan, 45, and said: “He was the real hero behind my success, as he was the man who made everything possible for me.”
To anyone considering donating a kidney, she had these inspirational words: “You are leaving a legacy of life either while you are still alive like me or after you have gone. It is the most
amazing gift you can give and it is free. I want people to make up their own minds but make sure they base it on fact and not myths. Why would you not help someone if you could?”
Dr Pervez Muzaffar, GP from Darwen, said: “The common goal for any health professional is to save lives and help the patients in their illnesses. There are occasions when the patient needs an organ transplant, at present there are about 6,000 patient on transplant least and last year 400 patient died while on the waiting list.
“BME population has a longer waiting time because of the lack of donors and match. The majority of Islamic religious leaders accept organ donation during life and after death in order save lives. We must think and talk about organ donation to save more lives, improving the quality of the life of the patients and their families. Please consider to enrol on donor register to help to reduce the number of these preventable deaths.”
Sofia is a volunteer with the Lancashire BME Network to help raise awareness of organ donation. For more information,, contact the network on 01254 392974 or email email@example.com or www.organdonation.nhs.uk/