Shades of Life author Vasundhara Raghavan is on a mission to curb illegal organ trade. Image Credit: XPRESS/Megan Hirons Mahon

Dubai: A Dubai-based mother, who donated a kidney to save her ill son after battling breast cancer, has put down her ordeal in a book that she hopes will inspire others to save lives.

Indian mother-of-two Vasundhara Raghavan feels that Shades of Life will encourage residents to legally donate organs in the UAE instead of selling them in poor countries.

According to her, the illegal organ trade is a serious menace with organ traffickers jacking up prices, even as scores of people die in botched-up underground transplant operations in many countries. A case in point is that of a Pakistani expatriate in Dubai who had offered his kidney online for Dh5,000 last year to help his sick mother. "Patients shouldn't have to buy kidneys from the black market — it's not safe. There's no need to go anywhere, live donations are legal here now. I hope to bring down the pressure on people to buy or sell organs and encourage legal transplants," Raghavan said. "Even if one kidney is saved, one life is saved."

Winning over destiny

Raghavan's son Aditya's left kidney failed in late 1996, when he was just 15. Raghavan's bid to donate her kidney to him hit a hurdle after she was diagnosed with breast cancer just days after she cleared the initial medical tests for the planned procedure.

"It didn't hit me at all — I knew I had to save my son somehow. The doctors told me to get treated first and then we could do the transplant," she said.

Raghavan was allowed to donate her kidney in 1999 after undergoing cancer treatment.

But the family had to deal with another blow when Aditya "lost the kidney" after falling ill in 2006, while he was in university in the US. He then received another kidney — this time from his elder brother. Raghavan said both siblings — now aged 30 and 31 — are in better health these days. "But I'm worried — kidney disease is for life; you'll always have to find money for treatment," she said.

"It hasn't been a pleasant topic to write about, but it's important to get the word out. People with high blood pressure and diabetes should monitor their health," she said.

Shades of Life costs $17 (Dh60) and is available through sites like amazon.com and borders.com.

The book has been co-authored by Dr Mohammad Akmal, a US-based kidney health expert.