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Legacy of an extraordinary Ghanaian woman; Margaret, the 1996 Kidney Donor

BY: Brig. Gen. Dan Frimpong
Mrs Margaret Klutse: She donated her kidney to save her husband’s life
Mrs Margaret Klutse: She donated her kidney to save her husband’s life

On Saturday, June 1, 2019, a thanksgiving service was held in honour of Mrs Margaret Klutse (nee Oppong Nyantakyi) at the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Church at Labone, Accra.

This extraordinary Ghanaian woman, wife of Brig. Gen. Emmanuel Klutse (Rtd) was buried a week earlier in her hometown of Asokore Ahinsa in the Ashanti Region.

Kidney transplant

In 1996, her husband was diagnosed in the United Kingdom with renal failure and needed an urgent kidney transplant to save his life. Numerous calls to family, friends and the wider community for a donor proved futile.

To the surprise of many, she offered herself as a possible donor. More surprisingly, she turned out to be a perfect match for her husband.

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This was at a time when technology for such a complex medical procedure was rudimentary.

Dangerous options

Options presented her by the doctors included her husband’s system rejecting her kidney leading to his death, she herself dying in the process, or both of them losing their lives.

However, nothing would deter Auntie Maggie from donating her kidney to save her husband’s life despite the high risk of losing her own life.

On September 24, 1996, the transplant was successfully carried out in the United Kingdom.

Tribute by Dr Kamal Ahmed

The Consultant Medical Director who led the transplant team said this in his tribute to her.

“To donate a kidney to a spouse back in 1996 was almost unheard of anywhere in the world.

As for an African woman to donate her kidney to her husband, it was the first time ever………For me, Margaret’s finest moment was when she came forward in 1996, without any prompt or request, offering to donate one of her kidneys to Emmanuel, the man she clearly loved more than anything.

Whatever my team and I told her about the risks involved, she was going ahead with absolute certainty and conviction.

Margaret was a remarkable, selfless, intelligent and compassionate African woman who was full of pride, dignity and truly ahead of her time.”

What Legacy?

At her thanksgiving service, the chaplain preached on the topic: “What legacy will you leave?” He stated that all testimonies about Auntie Maggie talked about her selflessness.

She was described as “a totally devoted wife who gave up her ambitions in 1995 to accompany her very sick husband for urgent medical treatment at Guys St Thomas’ Hospital in London where he was diagnosed with acute kidney problems”.

Indeed, she made the ultimate sacrifice in donating her kidney to save him, when close relatives of the husband backtracked.

Indiscipline and disrespect

The chaplain decried the greed and selfishness which have taken over the lives of Ghanaians. Forty years ago, generals were executed and judges were murdered ostensibly to cleanse the Ghanaian social fabric.

The indiscipline and disrespect which characterised those days have grown exponentially with people supposed to be leaders spearheading and demonstrating unbelievable dexterity and skills at raining invectives on others.

Unfortunately, such rough language still continues unabated by people one would have thought should know better.

Today, filth and insults have assumed centre stage in Ghana with Accra being described as one of the dirtiest capitals in the world.

The chaplain advised us to emulate Auntie Maggie’s respectful, disciplined and selfless life to help sanitise the Ghanaian society.

He advised the congregation to eschew violence and arrogance and learn from the life of humility Auntie Maggie led.

Conclusion

Auntie Maggie left a great legacy of selflessness, integrity, respect and discipline. These are attributes we were taught as children in the 1960s.

Above all she donated her kidney so her husband would live. Her death signified the ultimate sacrifice she made for a fellow human being, her husband.

Rulers of Ghana, learn from the life of Mrs Margaret Klutse, an extraordinary Ghanaian woman who died, so others may live.

For our arrogant, greedy and selfish rulers, remember, as the chaplain said that, our days on earth are seventy years, or eighty at best.

Like us ordinary mortals, rulers will not live forever.
Learn to be humble!

The writer is a former CEO, African Peace Support Trainers Association
Nairobi, Kenya.