Dechen Tshomo

Hoping for a successful liver transplant, an ailing 13-month-old baby, Yudra Tshering Zeepa will travel to Delhi with his parents tomorrow.

In what his father, Dechen Wangchuk believes to be a miracle for the family, a social media campaign that went viral raised Nu 3 million in five days.

Bhutanese in Australia and the United States,  and many local residents contributed individually and in groups for the liver transplant. The crowd fundraising was closed after it reached Nu 3M, the estimated cost for the transplant.

Dechen Wangchuk, who has volunteered to donate his liver to the baby, said the fund will help cover the cost of the liver transplant and other medical expenses after the surgery.

He said initially the liver transplant was planned at a hospital in Bangkok in Thailand. He realised that the transplant was expensive in Thailand. “Moreover, we did not get  proper confirmation from the hospital,” he said.

After consulting some Bhutanese doctors and friends, the family decided to go to a liver transplant hospital in Delhi.

“We have to do the transplant within a month.”

It all started when baby Yudra turned two months. His parents observed his skin, urine and stool were yellow.

He was treated for jaundice at the BHU in Khaling which referred him to Trashigang dzongkhag hospital, and then to the regional referral hospital in Mongar. When he was admitted to JDWNRH, the hospital in June this year referred baby Yudra to Kolkata, India where doctors diagnosed liver failure.

While the doctors did not really say that the baby has to undergo a liver transplant, Dechen Wangchuk said the only alternative solution was a liver transplant.

“Even if we sell everything that we have, we will not be able to afford it,” he said. “We saw our baby suffer in pain. We pray that no parent goes through what we went through.”

He said all possibilities were explored. “We were helpless.”

Dechen Wangchuk said they had no idea about raising money for the transplant. “One day, we visited a Rinpoche in Barshong to get blessings where the Rinpoche offered his support.”

The mother’s relatives in Australia also rendered their support.

As advised, he sent a small note about baby Yudra’s situation to his in-laws. Within 24 hours, information about baby Yudra went viral on Facebook and people started inquiring about it.

Another friend, he had met at the hospital when Yudra was admitted, saw the post and connected him with the founder of Bhutan Kidney Foundation, Tashi Namgay who helped raise the fund.

The pre-tests have been done and baby Yudra continues to receive medication and supplements.

He said that there was overwhelming support from the well-wishers, so the family did not want to burden the government or health ministry.

Health Minister Dechen Wangmo said after seeing the post on Facebook, she was concerned and asked the committee with the ministry if they have received baby Yudra’s case. “However, if there is anything that we can do to facilitate, we will be more than happy to facilitate within our own boundaries.”

There were a few liver transplant cases in adults. Lyonpo said transplant is not an easy process. “It is important to look at the pre-existing health condition of the baby or the patient, how well they can take. It is important to get medical feedback.”

On the fund raised, Lyonpo said it shows that Bhutanese are compassionate.

“While words are never enough to show our gratitude to everyone who helped us, we, the parents would like to thank each and everyone for their generous contribution to save our baby Yudra.  We remain forever grateful to everyone,” Dechen Wangchuk said.

On November 21, Tashi Namgay posted on his Facebook that the fund collected will be managed with transparency and accountability.

“We will keep the companionate donors informed on the progress of baby Yudra and on how the fund is being managed and used. We will keep everyone updated on the treatment,” he wrote.