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Devotee Pioneer Receives Life-saving Transplant

By: for ISKCON News on Oct. 21, 2007
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The devotee who turned '60s rock group the Beatles on to Krishna consciousness and introduced them to Srila Prabhupada, Shyamasundar das, is recovering from a live-donor transplant after discovering he had a tumor on his liver.

Doctors at the University of Chicago Medical Center had advised Shyamasundar that the alternatives to finding a suitable organ were a terminally ill donor willing to make their liver available at death - the search for such an individual taking up to nine months - or a healthy person willing to submit to an operation in which a part of their liver would be removed and transplanted, the livers subsequently regenerating to full size and capacity in donor and recipient.

Before doctors could embark on the live-donor procedure, donor and recipient had to be approximately the same height and weight and of a compatible blood type, in this case O-positive or negative. Both Shyamasundar's daughters were willing to be donors, but their blood didn’t match. The prospective donor would also have to convince the doctors there would be no grounds for future litigation.

As a result of a plea for help posted on the internet, more than 30 offers to donate a liver portion arrived from the worldwide devotee community. These were forwarded to the medical center to be matched for physical characteristics and blood type. Eventually a match with Gopinath das, a disciple of Radhanath Swami at New Vrindavan, was confirmed. 


 

Doctors at the University of Chicago successfully carried out the 15-hour operation in early October. Gopinath das has since recovered sufficiently to be discharged while Shyamasundar's progress continues to be monitored.

"I pray to Krishna this works," Shyamasundar said. "My biggest boon, however, is knowing that there are souls out there who have so much love for Srila Prabhupada that they would risk helping me in this way."

Shyamasundar das was initiated by Srila Prabhupada in January of 1967 in San Fransisco. He was a catalyst in the early days of the Hare Krishna movement. Serving as a personal secretary to Srila Prabhupada in the 1970s, he helped organize some of the earliest festivals of the chariots in the West, carved the first set of Jagannatha Deities in the western world and was among the first group of devotees to establish a temple in the United Kingdom. 


 

It was in England that he met Beatle George Harrison and encouraged him to fund the first printing of Krishna:The Supreme Personality of Godhead, the initial study of the tenth canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam by Srila Prabhupada. 

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