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Father and son posing for a photo

An organ donation that’s all in the family

When you think about family planning, a kidney rarely comes to mind.  

It did for the Bhatt family, as soon as 15-year-old Prachet was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease in 2007. "The doctor told us that he would need a new kidney in 5 or 10 years," recalled JP, his father, who also goes by Jay. He and his wife, Romsha, started thinking about suitable donors. Jay started paying strict attention to his own health, getting regular checkups, watching his diet and exercising regularly. “I did that for many, many years knowing that as his father I could be his kidney donor.”

Prachet grew up taking regular medications which managed the condition into his late twenties. Prachet moved to Houston to pursue a PhD in Health Economics at University of Houston, but his kidneys were starting to fail, as predicted.  

Prachet met with Bhamidipati Murthy, MD., Professor of Medicine and Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine, and Medical Director, Kidney Transplant Program at Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center. Dr. Murthy was impressed with the care Prachet took to stay on track with his meds and remain physically fit.  

“Prachet was really on top of things - he followed verbatim whatever the physicians told him to do and that is one of the reasons why his kidney lasted so long into his adulthood,” Dr. Murthy said. Prachet was born with posterior urethral valves, a congenital condition causing lower urinary tract obstruction that can lead to kidney failure. According to Dr. Murthy, many patients with this condition, even if managed very well, need a kidney transplant before they are twenty years old. In Prachet’s case, his kidneys started to fail in his late twenties.

“The likelihood of me finding a match through organ donations could have taken years,” Prachet feared. But the Bhatt family was ready. Prachet’s parents and sister had undergone the necessary blood work to determine their suitability as donors. JP and Prachet’s sister matched initially and rigorous testing, including in-depth analyses by two separate medical review boards at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center finally identified 61-year-old Jay as the most suitable donor.  

“Their due diligence was very impressive,” Jay said. “The two boards were making sure that the outcomes would be good for both of us.”

Finally, on February 28, 2024, the surgical team removed Jay’s left kidney and transplanted it in Prachet.  Prachet was discharged home on the fifth post-operative day, and he proposed to his girlfriend, Srinidhi, exactly one-week post-surgery.  “It’s unreal. I am so grateful. I don't think I can ever repay my parents who stayed with me here in Houston for months. I also received immense support from my fiance Srinidhi, her family and friends,” Prachet said.

Jay fared well too. He spent only one night in the hospital and recovered in two weeks. Jay & Romsha both work for HP Inc. in Oregon and the company allowed them to work from home or HP’s Houston office. When Jay returned to Oregon, he resumed his fitness regime, walking 16 thousand steps a day just five weeks after his surgery and running a 5K in the sixth week. 

Dr. Murthy said Prachet’s prognosis for the long term should be very good, especially since organ rejections are not as frequent with living donor transplants. “I expect his kidney to last at least 20 years. And it could be longer than that.” When a child is born with a condition that could lead to chronic kidney disease, it places a lot of stress on families and Dr. Murthy commended the Bhatt’s for their advanced planning. “If a family finds itself caring for a child with chronic kidney disease, and if they are able to, they should follow the same path and keep themselves healthy. At some point they may need to donate a kidney for the child,” Dr. Murthy said.

Prachet had high praise for the interdisciplinary transplant team at Baylor St. Luke’s. “They kept me informed the entire time. I’m so grateful,” he said. Another good aspect of Prachet’s kidney transplant is that he had a transplant before he needed dialysis. “Such a transplant has the best outcomes in the long run,” Dr. Murthy said. 

Thanks to his supportive advisor Douglas Thornton, Ph.D. at the University of Houston College of Pharmacy, Prachet was able to continue to pursue his PhD with minimal interruption. He and fiance Srinidhi are planning their wedding for Spring, 2025. They are indeed a match - like many in the Bhatt family, she too matched as a potential kidney donor.

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