When Lévi Ruvuzo Birego learned in 2016 that his renal failure required a kidney transplant as quickly as possible, he wasn't sure how good his chances were. Lévi had been in and out of the hospital frequently and was now spending 3 days each week undergoing 4-hour dialysis treatments. “I am someone who accepts whatever life brings along. So I did get used to being on dialysis,” says Lévi. “But there is no doubt that being dialyzed three times a week does interfere with your life and your family’s life.”
Lévi was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease, at the age of 56, where he was started on kidney dialysis in 2016. After his wife, mother, and most of his family members all learned that their blood tests had resulted in unsuccessful donor matches, hope seemed lost. In the end, it was a distant cousin Matthieu Kadodobe Birego, who stepped up to save Lévi’s life. When Matthieu’s results came back as a match, the family decided to travel to India to have the transplant procedure. Lévi would be accompanied by cousin Matthieu and his sister Nzigire Muganda.
In order to expedite the process, the family got in touch with Vaidam and requested to have their medical documentation done in advance. They sent their reports to their case manager, so they wouldn’t have to wait when they arrived in India. In the meanwhile, their case manager sent their reports over to Apollo Hospital- one of the best kidney transplant hospitals in India, in New Delhi to have it examined by a specialist. The family quickly made arrangements for arriving in India to undergo the transplant surgery.
Lévi and Matthieu arrived in New Delhi on the 28th of June. Their transplant surgeries would be performed by Dr. D. K. Agarwal, a Senior Nephrologist at Apollo Indraprastha, and his team. "Had Matthieu not stepped forward to donate, Lévi may have been relegated to waiting for five years, 10 years," says Dr. Agarwal. "You really don't know how long he would have had to wait." The following day, Dr. Agarwal scheduled their surgeries and the process unfolded seamlessly.
After surgery, Matthieu’s kidney, now Lévi’s kidney immediately began to work. The morning of the transplant surgery, the level of Lévi’s creatinine – a waste product filtered from the blood by healthy kidneys – measured at an astonishing 17. A week later, it was 1.14, right in the middle of the normal range for adult males.
"This whole process was concerning for me because I was worried about Matthieu," Lévi said. "But he has always been a very giving person. We have had hardly any problems and are very thankful." Five days later, the two were discharged from the hospital after the Dr. Agarwal- the best nephrologist in India, successfully signed off on the two.
“That was quite an experience. The Apollo Hospital was quite different from those in Congo. I found the hospital to be particularly clean and very well organised. The staff were very professional, always ready to help and always spoke gently to help us understand,” recounts Lévi. “We were even able to cook our own food, so we were cooking our home food here in India, which was amazing.”
A month after arriving in India, Lévi and his family made their way back to their home in Sudan. Both Lévi and his cousin Matthieu are recovering quickly. "It's a relief to be off the dialysis machine, very freeing." Lévi added. "I've never felt better. Everything turned out well, and I feel very fortunate."
Vaidam would like to wish Lévi and Matthieu a speedy recovery and a healthy and bright future ahead.