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Wednesday, 5 December, 2001, 01:01 GMT
'My battle with kidney disease'
Dialysis patient
Organ shortage forces many black patients onto dialysis
By BBC News Online's community affairs reporter Cindi John

Prashak M Suchak still remembers with amazement the day back in 1990 when his life was dramatically changed by an illness he did not even know he had.

"I had just left court when suddenly I collapsed totally without warning," recalled Mr Suchak, a solicitor.

Rushed to hospital, doctors discovered both his kidneys had failed.

"My wife was rung up and told to bring the family quickly because I was dying," said Mr Suchak.

Prashak Suchak
Prashak Suchak faced a long wait for a transplant

Mr Suchak told BBC News Online back then he had believed himself to be a reasonably fit 35-year-old but with hindsight could see he had been suffering the classic symptoms of kidney disease.

"I seriously thought the pain I felt when urinating was down to hot Indian food and the headaches I basically put down to a stressful lifestyle at work," he said.

Luckily in spite of the hospital's ominous warning to his wife Mr Suchak responded to the prompt treatment he received.

Donor shortage

Mr Suchak was told his best long-term hope was a kidney transplant but the shortage of Asian donors - the best chance of a compatible organ - meant he might face a long wait.


Many Asian people use religion as an excuse not to register as organ donors

Prashak Suchak

The solicitor was dismayed to find that the level of awareness about kidney disease - and the increased risk faced by Asians - was very low among Leicester's Indian community.

And he said he also found a significant amount of resistance in his attempts to persuade people to register as organ donors.

"Many Asian people use religion as an excuse not to register as organ donors.

"But I haven't seen it written in any religious books that if you can help save somebody else's life after your life then you shouldn't do that.

"And of course you can donate a kidney before you die. Isn't there a message there that God gave us two kidneys when we can survive with just one?" Mr Suchak added.

'Campaign goes on'

Mr Suchak said that his condition meant frequent dialysis treatments were necessary which badly disrupted both his working and home life.

After four years a suitable kidney finally became available and he had his transplant in November 1994.

Since then Mr Suchak has recovered so well he only needs hospital check ups twice a year.

But the solicitor said that did not mean he had given up trying to raise awareness of the disease among Leicester's Asian and black communities.

"I'm really grateful to the white man who donated his kidney but if more Asian donors had been on the register I might not have waited so long for my transplant.

"Hopefully in time the message will get through. I would not wish what I've been through on my worst enemy."

See also:

24 Jan 01 | Health
Campaign for kidney care reform
15 Oct 01 | J-M
Kidney failure
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