Giving the gift of life -- it’s what one sister was able to do for her brother at Baylor University Medical Center just weeks before Christmas.
Dr. Bindu Samuel stepped up to offer one of her own kidneys after she learned her brother, Biji Thomas, was in desperate need of a kidney transplant.
Thomas was put on the transplant list in June and wasn’t even considering asking a family member to donate. But Samuel said she knew exactly what needed to happen.
Samuel and Thomas have always shared that special sibling bond, as they were each other’s only sibling growing up.
“She was the bossy one, she used to boss my friends,” Thomas joked.
“I’m very protective of him,” Samuel said.
Fast forward to 2015 when Thomas was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease and found himself facing several years waiting on the transplant list.
“Over the last three years I lost kidney function pretty rapidly, and as recently as November I had less than four percent function left,” Thomas said.
Thomas wasn’t going to ask a family member to donate.
“I didn’t even know how to even ask somebody, it’s not a straightforward question to ask,” Thomas said.
His sister stepped up anyway.
“The instant click I got at that time, this is what God has planned for me. I should show God’s love which I experienced in my life to my brother by sharing this gift of life to him,” Thomas said.
But Samuel lives nearly 10,000 miles away in India, so doctors and hospital staff had to work fast to get the necessary visa and medical tests done to see if the siblings were even a match.
“And then obviously time constraints of coming with a visa here that she can only be here in the United States for a certain amount of time,” said transplant surgeon Dr. Johanna Bayer.
It was a match and both siblings had a successful surgery at Baylor on Nov. 29.
“These kidneys do incredibly well, and we encourage everyone to be a willing donor and to be upfront about their kidney disease if they have it so they can find someone to give them this gift,” said transplant surgeon Dr. Anji Wall.
Giving perhaps the best Christmas gift and making their sibling bond closer than ever before.
“There is no better Christmas gift to be exchanged, in my view,” Thomas said.
“I’m so happy I could give this gift, it’s the best I could do for a brother,” Samuel said.