As part of our campaign: “Lancashire: Giving the gift of life”, Aasma Day talks to Imran Najeeb who ‘tricked’ his mum into accepting his kidney by telling her he would sell it online uless she agreed to using his for transplant.
“LOOK Mum - I’m selling my kidney on eBay and someone’s going to pay me £10,000 for it!”
Imran Najeeb knew he was telling his mum an outrageous lie but was doing it in good faith, knowing it was the only way he could convince her to accept one of his kidneys.
Both son and mother were trying to be selfless – he by offering a kidney and she by declining as she didn’t want to put him at risk.
But Imran was so determined to help mum Zainab Begum, he was prepared to lie to her about selling his kidney.
And his tactic worked as even though his mum had protested she didn’t want his kidney, when faced with the news he was willing to sell it to a stranger, she exclaimed: “Why would you sell your kidney to a complete stranger when you could give it to me?”
Imran, now 34, who lives in Blackburn, had been in contact with Royal Preston Hospital’s transplant recipient co-ordinator Fiona Biggins for some time about his desperation to donate his kidney to his mum. But he needed her to agree before he could donate.
Imran, a senior adviser at Skipton Building Society on Fishergate, Preston, for eight years and now branch manager at Bury, explains: “She is my mum and I wanted to help her. As soon as I realised she needed a transplant, I offered to give her one of my kidneys.
“But although my mum initially agreed, she then changed her mind and told me she didn’t want to take my kidney.
“She said if anything happened to me, she would never forgive herself.
“We were both trying to be selfless but I desperately wanted to donate to her.
“I even asked the doctors if I could donate anonymously without my mum knowing but they told me they couldn’t legally do this.”
The family’s ordeal began around eight years ago when Zainab, now 52, began feeling ill, lost weight and started suffering from headaches and had high blood pressure.
Tests revealed Zainab had kidney damage and she was referred to hospital where specialists discovered her kidneys were only functioning at 25 per cent.
Zainab ended up on haemodialysis at hospital three or four times a week and the mum-of-six and grandmother of 13 lost out on quality time with her family.
Imran recalls: “Dialysis was physically and emotionally draining for my mum.
“She was also losing out on family time with her children and grandchildren as every second day, she was in hospital for four or five hours a time.”
Imran is one of six siblings and is the eldest son. Even though his dad and brothers and sisters were willing to be tested as suitable kidney matches, Imran felt it was his duty.
He says: “As the eldest son and brother, I felt it was my responsibility and I didn’t let any of my brothers and sisters take the tests. I persuaded them to let me do them first.
“But after my mum refused to let me donate my kidney, we had no choice but to let her remain on dialysis.
“She became very tired and drained and suffered from mood swings and life was very difficult.”
Things came to a head when Imran overheard his mum talking to his cousin in Pakistan over the telephone and discussing the possibility of buying a kidney and having the transplant abroad.
Imran says: “The main emotion I felt was anger.
“I knew obtaining a kidney from abroad meant potential problems with infection as you don’t know where the kidney has come from, especially when you’re dealing with a third world country.
“I was also concerned about kidneys being sold on the black market and people in poverty being taken advantage of.
“Only the week before, I’d seen a television documentary about a private facility in China which was carrying out appendix operations on patients and removing kidneys so they could sell them.
“This had me worried as I didn’t like to think my mum was considering a kidney from a similar source.
“I felt angry as there was me willing to give her my healthy kidney and my mum was willing to take such a risk by buying an unknown kidney.”
Instead of confronting his mum, Imran decided to play it more cleverly and casually told her he had put his kidney on eBay and had a man from China willing to pay £10,000 for it.
Imran says: “My mum can’t read or write English so I went on Google Images and showed her a picture of a kidney telling her it was my kidney for sale.
“My mum got angry and asked why I was selling my kidney when she needed one.
“That was the moment of truth. It was through anger her true emotions came out. I realised she did want my kidney and it was just concern for me that was stopping her.
“As a child, you sometimes have to play your parents. I had to do this to trick her into accepting my kidney as I was just so desperate to help her.”
Imran rang Fiona Biggins at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals telling her his mum had finally agreed to accept his kidney.
It then took around 12 months for the tissue typing and tests.
Imran says: “I made sure I went with my mum for all her appointments so she couldn’t pull out.
“A couple of times, she became nervous and had doubts but I told her I would just sell my kidney on eBay unless she took it.”
Tests revealed Imran was a perfect match and the transplant was performed in Manchester.
Imran, who is married to Shubnum and has two daughters, says: “I asked my wife if she was okay with me doing this and she was.
“We had the discussion about what if I passed away and I told her to forgive me if that happened.
“She made a big sacrifice as she was willing to lose her husband and the father of her children if things went wrong.
“But I looked at my daughters who were six and two at the time and felt everything would be fine.
“I am not overly religious or pious, but I knew I was doing it for the right reasons for my mum.
“If it was my time to go, I would go and if it wasn’t, I would live.”
The transplant was a success and just 48 hours later, Imran could visibly see the change in his mum.
He recalls: “The colour of her skin had changed, she had more life in her and just looked healthier.
“The doctor said I had one of the healthiest and biggest kidneys he had seen so it was just meant to be.
“We spent four days in hospital and six weeks recovering at home.
“Both my mum and I made a great recovery. We now have one kidney each and are really well and enjoying life.
“My mum is very happy and grateful and is able to enjoy time with her children and grandchildren.
“She says prayers for me every time she sees me.
“But for me, it is just fantastic seeing my mum healthy again and no longer on dialysis.
“Me and my mum were close before, but now we’re even closer.
“I have absolutely no regrets and want to encourage as many people as I can to donate organs.
“I think there is a lack of education in the Asian community.
“Because I have been through it, I can give anyone who is scared of being a living donor the confidence to do it.
“I am living proof that if you help a parent or loved one by giving them a kidney, there is every chance you’ll be fine.
“You can live a full and healthy life with one kidney.”
FIONA BIGGINS, TRANSPLANT RECIPIENT CO-ORDINATOR AT LANCASHIRE TEACHING HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST
“The role of the living kidney donor co-ordinator is to ensure the health and well-being of potential kidney donors is not compromised in any way.
“We are always very cautious, especially when young people come forward for donation.
“Imran demonstrated a strong and inspirational commitment to helping his mother Zainab.
“Imran proved to be a suitable match after completing a thorough process of investigations and has maintained a healthy lifestyle which we have monitored annually since donation.”
The major religions in the UK support the idea of organ donation and transplant. This includes:
If you’re unsure of or uncomfortable with your faith’s position on donation, ask your religious leader or teacher.
Lancashire: Giving the gift of life is a campaign aiming to inspire at least another 2,016 people to pledge to donate their organs during 2016.
To register as an organ donor, visit: http://bit.ly/givethegiftoflife
But more importantly, tell those closest to you that you would like to become an organ donor and then record your wishes on the donor register.
That way, when the time comes, your family and friends will know you want to be a donor to help others.