Ansar Babu, author of ‘Who Took My Breath Away?’ at his house in Dubai Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: A father-of-two and recent recipient of transplant organs has called upon UAE residents to register on the Hayat application so that the country can have a robust supply of donor organs for those in need.

Slowly getting back to normal life after a double lung transplant, Ansar Babu, a 39-year-old Abu Dhabi-based marketing executive from India, has also written a 64,000-word book to detail his experience.

“I want to encourage other people suffering from lung diseases to get a transplant, if needed, and I will be happy if my story can provide this boost,” Babu told Gulf News.

“I’ve also registered as an organ donor on the Ministry of Health and Prevention’s Hayat application. When I needed a transplant, this registry had not yet been created. But now that it exists, our willingness to donate organs can save many other lives here in the UAE,” he added.

For Babu, the diagnosis that he was suffering from a chronic, irreversible lung disease came as a complete shock in 2018.

“I had never smoked in my life, but I was suddenly suffering from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or scarring in my lungs. At first, all I knew was that I had a persistent cough, and often felt lethargic or breathless. A series of tests and X-rays then revealed the fibrosis,” Babu said.

Living in isolation

He was initially started on oxygen support at two litres per minute. But within a few months, his requirement increased to a level that could only be supplied at a hospital. Doctors then recommended an urgent transplant, and due to the lack of suitable donor organs, he was referred to a hospital in Chennai, India.

After a few weeks of hospitalisation, Babu underwent an eight-hour double lung transplant in September. The surgery was successful, but his weakened muscles meant that he needed three weeks of physiotherapy before he was up on his feet again.

I rarely venture out of my room, and always wear a face mask when I do. I’ve also had to keep my children at bay since they can easily transfer infections from school.

- Ansar Babu

Even after he returned home to Abu Dhabi, Babu has had to remain in isolation so that the immunosuppressants he is on to prevent organ rejection do not lead to him developing an infection.

“I rarely venture out of my room, and always wear a face mask when I do. I’ve also had to keep my children at bay since they can easily transfer infections from school,” Babu said.

He will soon cross the six-month post-op period, after which he can afford to go out more and mingle with others. In the meantime, Babu has penned a 285-page book about his transplant experience that is now available on Amazon.

Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

“It’s been out for about a week, and already, I’ve had people with lung disease contact me from India, the UAE and the United States to discuss their concerns. I became an author by accident, but I hope my inputs have helped these patients reach a decision on their future treatment plans, including a transplant if required,” Babu said.

He also hopes that his daughter and son, who are now aged just six and four respectively, will one day learn of his experience by reading the book.

“Finally, I also want to urge everyone to spend a few minutes every day taking a few deep breaths. As I learnt, these help utilise the generally unused top portion of the lung, and could be instrumental in keeping the lungs healthy for longer,” he added.