Chakra Announcements

Longtime Devotee Needs Living-Donor Transplant

by Malati devi dasi

Posted August 23, 2007

In a fast-evolving turn of events, Shyamasundar das is in need of a liver transplant. His liver has a very large tumor and must be replaced if he is to survive. Shyamasundar prabhu was initiated in January 1967 in San Francisco. He carved the original Jagannath deities still worshipped in Berkeley, as well as three other sets. He was personal secretary for Srila Prabhupada during the early '70s, introduced Srila Prabhupdada and Hare Krishnato the Beatles and asked George to pay for printing of the first edition of the Krishna book.

The ideal solution for Shyamasundar would be a "living donor," who would give a portion of his or her healthy liver to the receiver. For both the donor and the recipient, the liver regenerates itself to full size and capablity. (This procedure was successfully accomplished earlier this year for a devotee in New Vrindaban).

Shyamasundar's daughters were bothwilling to donate, but neither one had the required O blood type. Radhanath Swami and I heard this news, and we felt someone in the greater community of Vaishnavas could come forward and help at this time; hence this unusual appeal. Shyamasundar has yet to complete his memoirs of Srila Prabhupada, and an early departure would be the loss not only of a wonderful Vaishnava but of precious memories that have yet to be shared in full.

Please step forward, if your heart prompts you to do so, and see if you can help. The operation would be in Chicago at the hospital where the first such operation of this kind occured with excellent resultsless than a decade ago. I beg your mercy and pray for the blessings of Sri Sri Radha Krishna on all of you.Please offer your prayers for the benefit of Shyamasundar prabhu. He has always been a most kindhearted, benevolent devotee and has never tolerated criticism of others in his presence.

Editor's Note: The contemplated procedure has been performed successfully at the University of Chicago hospitals and at other famous hospitals. No surgery is entirely free of risk, however, and transplantation operations involve risks to both the donor and the recipient. Devotees who may be considering the donation of a portion of their liver to save the life of another person should familiarize themselves with the details of the liver transplant procedure and discuss it with their families.

Typically, kidney and liver tissue donors have been parents, siblings or children of the recipient, but with the rise in immunosuppressive drug therapy, it is now possible for unrelated persons to offer an organ donation. Donor candidates must have O-type blood (the Rh-positive or Rh-negative status does not matter for transplantation purposes). Ideally, donors should be in the 20-55 age group and should be roughly the size of the recipient, though this is far from an absolute requirement. Shyamasundar das (known to the hospital as Sam Speerstra) is 6 feet (183 cm) tall and weighs 190 pounds (86 kg).

The University of Chicago, as with any hospital, will require that any friend of Sam Speerstra sign "informed-consent" documents before the donation can take place. A potential donor should preferably self-identify as a "close friend," setting aside "same religion" or similar designations.

Potential donors for Sam Speerstra can contact Jeanine Elkin, Liver Transplant Coordinator, University of Chicago Medical Center (Phone:773-834-4562; Fax:773-834-3640). Ms. Elkin will instruct each particular donor in how to proceed.