The Gambia might have severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan. But where their country of origin fails to provide basic services critically needed, some Gambians remember to take advantage of old ties established with Taiwan over the years. A Gambian mother recently flew 9,000 miles to Taiwan to donate a kidney to her son, 40-year-old Lamin Jarjusey. On Thursday, Jarjusey and his mother were discharged from a hospital in Taoyuan following a successful kidney transplant.
“Thank you, Taiwan. The doctors and nurses in Taiwan are very professional, and I’m very impressed with what I’ve seen,” said Lamin Jarjusey, who was suffering from stage 5 chronic kidney disease (CKD) and underwent a kidney transplant in March at Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taoyuan.
A press conference was held Thursday at Taipei Chang Gung Memorial Hospital with a cake-cutting ceremony to celebrate the recovery of Jarjusey, who came to Taiwan as a student eight years ago and found local employment after recently graduating.
About three years ago, Jarjusey began noticing blood in his urine, a symptom later diagnosed as chronic kidney disease with proteinuria, the hospital said, noting that he started receiving dialysis treatment after his condition worsened last year.
At this advanced stage of kidney disease, the kidneys of patients typically lose nearly all their ability to work effectively, and eventually, dialysis or a kidney transplant is needed to live.
After discussing possible treatment options with the patient, it was decided that his mother would come to Taiwan to donate a kidney, the hospital said.
Due to travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Taiwan’s Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs assisted, issuing a special entry permit to Jarjusey’s mother earlier this year to come to Taiwan in February as a kidney donor.
Kuo Yen-Chih, a nephrologist at the Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, said communication was difficult initially, as the mother can only speak Mandinka, a language spoken in the Gambia.
Fortunately, the hospital was able to find Gambian students who also speak Mandinka to help with translation, Kuo explained, adding that the transplant was successfully carried out in March.
Wang Hsu-han, who heads Linkou Chang Gung’s urology and kidney transplantation department, said the mother was discharged from the hospital five days after surgery. At the same time, the patient also recovered very well and is expected to return to his job in May.
Using his limited knowledge of Chinese mixed in with some English, Jarjusey thanked his mother for giving him a new lease on life and the Chang Gung medical staff for treating him.
“Before the surgery, I felt sleepy and tired all the time and felt cold and so many complications. But now I feel good,” he said.
“I would like to give a big thanks to my mom for giving me another chance. She brought me into this world, and she gave me another chance for a healthy life,” he added.