AHMADABAD - Overcoming years of religious tensions, a Muslim and Hindu families managed to find a common ground after swapping kidney donations to patients in both families.
"When it is a matter of life and death, religion is the last thing on your mind," Dr Vivek Kute, assistant professor at IKDRC who attended to the two patients, told DNA news agency on Sunday, December 23.
The story began when Mayur Gandhi, a Hindu businessman from Vadodara, needed a kidney that matched his blood group.
"I needed a kidney that was from a person of B-positive blood group.," said Gandhi.
My wife, Jayshree, was willing to donate her kidney but that was of no use to me because her blood group is A-negative.
He was overjoyed when officials of the IKDRC Hospital told them about a patient, Irfan Sindhiya, who was looking for a donor from A-negative blood group.
Irfan's mother happened to be B-positive and was willing to donate a kidney for her son but, unfortunately, that would have been of no use to him.
"The hospital authorities suggested a swap and we agreed.Thus, Jayshree gave a kidney to Irfan Sindhiya, while the latter's mother, Zubeida, gave her kidney to Mayur.
The families are now friends and Mayur and wife even attended Irfan's marriage.
Official figures show Muslims, whom make up around 13 percent of India's 1.1 billion population, are lagging behind in literacy.
Gujarat's Muslim population is barely 10 per cent, but in some areas and three Parliamentary constituencies in Kutch, Ahmedabad and Bharuch, it is 16-17 per cent.
Indian Muslims accuse the media and authorities of boosting stereotypes about their religion.
Muslims also complain of a long history of neglect.
Getting a kidney from a Muslim, Gandhi said that all bodies are made the same by God.
In God's factory when a body is made, he does not label it Hindu or Muslim. That label is given by us, said Gandhi.
"Later we came to know of Hindu families with the same blood group willing to swap kidneys with us, but we did not opt for it. It would have been cruel.The Muslim family already had its hopes high and we were not willing to backtrack.
Swapping their kidneys, both families managed to overcome years of religious tensions in the poor Gujarat state.
"Zubeida is now like a sister to me, said Mayur.
Both Mayur and Irfan are now doing well.
"When you are staring at death, the last thing on your mind is the religion of your saviour," said Irfan, 24, when asked if he had problems accepting the kidney of a Hindu woman.
"Had it not been for Jayshreeben, I know my life would not have been what it is now, he said.
Performing transplant operations commonly, Dr HL Trivedi, director of IKDRC, said that the religion and caste of a patient is not important.
"The most important thing is to do everything possible to save their life," said Dr Trivedi.