And so the tortured saga of Venkateswarlu, a driver by profession, came to an end Sunday. He died of post-kidney-transplant complications in the Osmania General Hospital (OGH) in Hyderabad, capital of the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh (AP).He had triggered off a major surgeons' strike a few days ago.
The condition of Venkateshwarlu, who was on dialysis, turned critical two days ago.
His death on Sunday morning too led to protests by his family members and relatives. They staged a dharna in front of the hospital demanding the police and doctors not to perform a post-mortem on the body.
They squatted on the road and raised slogans saying that the incident occurred due to doctors' negligence. ''We do not want the body to be cut into pieces in the name of postmortem. If they go ahead with it despite our insistence, we will commit suicide,'' Venkateswarlu's wife Rani threatened.
Giving in to their objections, the police allowed the family to shift the body to their native Khammam district.
Venkateswarlu was admitted to the OGH due to kidney problems. A transplantation surgery was performed at the hospital after his daughter Radhika donated her kidney in June.
But on the very second day post-transplant, a blood clot developed and the patient's body rejected the new kidney, which then ceased functioning.
Doctors had to remove the kidney, leaving Venkateswarlu dependent on dialysis again.
It led to a major controversy with Venkateshwarlu's family alleging that his daughter's kidney was sold to another person by doctors during the operation, and that another kidney had been transplanted, endangering his life.
Superintendent of OGH, Dr Girish Narayen rubbished the allegations as misinformed and said that the risks involved in transplant operation had been sufficiently explained to the patient.
''It was a surgical complication that had nothing to do with negligence or malpractice by the doctors. It is unfair to subject an institution like OGH to this,'' he said.
Surgeons who performed the transplant operation also stoutly denied the allegations and demanded that the government conduct a DNA test immediately to put to rest the allegations of malpractice and confirm the fact that the kidney used for the transplant for a father was indeed his daughter's.
''We have preserved the failed kidney at the hospital and can get a tissue sample from the donor. A DNA test will prove that we did not try to transplant a kidney from some dead person, as the donor and her father allege,'' chairman of AP unit of the Indian Society of Nephrology (ISN) Dr A Gopal Kishan said at a press conference.
In the wake of the protests by doctors, transplants had come to a halt in the state. On an average, 20 transplantations take place every month in A.P., with the OGH performing four of them.
But following pressure from the public, surgeons resumed their operations.
A committee was formed, on the instructions of Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, to investigate the matter. The doctors submitted the report to the CM and demanded that a DNA test be done immediately.
The committee also recommended to the government to fund the second transplant for the patient. "The patient's wife has come forward to donate her kidney. We are ready to perform a second transplant free of cost," Dr S Saharia, secretary of ISN, had said.
But before any such thing could happen, Venkateswarlu himself has passed away and the body too has been taken away without postmortem, thus leaving the whole question wide open.