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Dr Shaila Kabir uprooted her life when she came to South Australia’s Renal Transplant UNIT (SARTU) to receive a kidney from her husband Mohammed Islam despite the incompatibility of his blood type.

Married in their home country of Bangladesh, Shaila and Mohammed moved to Sydney soon after to pursue further study and career opportunities.

Years later, suffering from foot cramps and severe tiredness, Shaila visited her local doctor who discovered her kidney was only functioning at 10 per cent.

“I was told I would need to be on dialysis within a year,” Shaila said.

A transplant was inevitable for Shaila who was put on dialysis three times a week.

As the couple were in the process of obtaining their Australian citizenship, a kidney transplant could only come from someone they knew personally.

Willing to do anything for his wife, Mohammad donated his kidney to save Shaila's life.
Willing to do anything for his wife, Mohammad donated his kidney to save Shaila’s life.

“As we weren’t Australian citizens yet we couldn’t go through the health care system so we had to find our own donor,” Mohammed said.

Mohammed was not a direct match, but after returning to Bangladesh and having no luck finding a suitable donor there, the couple opted for an incompatible kidney transplant.

“I would do anything for my wife,” Mohammed said.

The couple were transferred to Professor Toby Coates and his team at the SARTU who specialised in blood group incompatible kidney transplants not yet available in Sydney.

Conducted at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital TQEH), this process involved the removal of blood group antibodies from Shaila’s blood to ensure she would successfully receive the kidney from her husband.

This was a noteworthy achievement as Shaila possessed significantly high levels of blood group antibodies and Mohammed had a rare blood type, being A positive with Type 2 Antigens.

After weeks of treatment Shaila’s level of antibodies were deemed low enough and the transplant was completed successfully.

Welcoming their daughter Ranha in 2012, Shaila became the first woman to give birth after an incompatible kidney transplant.
Welcoming their daughter Ranha in 2012, Shaila became the first woman to give birth after an incompatible kidney transplant.

“We can’t actually put into words how happy we were. I would do anything to help others going through the same thing as I went through,” Mohammed said.

“We are so very thankful to Professor Coates.

“The doctors in Adelaide are the best in Australia, and the world.

Having already defied the odds, Shaila made further history when she became the first woman to give birth after receiving an incompatible kidney. Shaila and Mohammed welcomed their daughter Manha in July 2012.

Now six years on from her transplant, Shaila continues to have regular check-ups and remains healthy and active with her young family.