Soli Hakim

Soli Hakim, owner of Soli's Soup and Sandwiches in Rockmart, recently went back home to Bangalore, India on a mission of love for his brother and donated his kidney. Hakim said his hope in sharing his story is to inspire others to help people by becoming organ donors.

Kevin Myrick

Local business owner goes home to India to donate kidney

Soli Hakim, owner of Soli’s Soups on Marble Street, came home one afternoon in the past months from his Rock­mart restaurant and found his wife crying.

In the 15 minutes of explanation that followed, Hakim suddenly faced what turned out to be an easy decision of giving his brother a second chance of having a normal life.

Hakim’s story of becoming an organ donor started with his brother Shabbir Hakim back in his homeland.

“I give all the credit to my wife,” he said. “My wife has a lot of qualifications and education in medicine. My father was a doctor, and my uncle was a doctor ... I grew up in that line of work.”

Hakim knew his brother, who lives with the rest of his family in Bangalore, India, was having problems as they continue to talk daily.

“He’s been having hypertension since he was 28,” he said. “He lived in Kenya for 10 years, and I think he wasn’t visiting doctors regularly ... he’s a foodie lover, and eats all kinds of things.”

Then both of the wives began talking to one another about the issues, and the full story of what Hakim’s brother was facing came out.

“My wife talked to my brother’s wife, and she just mentioned that down the road he needs a transplantation, and already put her on the donor’s list,” Hakim said. “My wife, she didn’t say anything to her. And I remember it was a Friday, and I came home from work and I found my wife crying. And I asked her, what’s wrong?”

Hakim then heard the entire story of what his brother might be facing, and his wife made a detailed case for him donating his kidney now so his brother wouldn’t have to wait for another on the donor’s list.

“Then we talked to our son, and he was also very encouraging, and said, ‘Yes, you should do it,’” Hakim said.

Hakim had to work on figuring out how to make the restaurant work while he went off to India to have surgery, and after having tests done locally via Floyd Medical Center then had to fly to India and undergo more testing, and paperwork from two different governments.

A team of doctors performed the surgery on the two brothers, and Hakim said both himself and his brother have recovered without any issues since. In fact, other than anesthesia amid the procedure and painkillers during a day of recovery following, Hakim hasn’t used any medications before or since the surgery.

With a family history in medicine, Hakim has been no stranger to the doctor’s office and said that he remains healthy after donating his kidney, has experienced no changes in his lifestyle and in the next three months will be cleared to take up one of his regular contributions to local health: blood donation.

“I’ve already donated ,my body to science when I die,” he said. “They can have whatever organs are useful, and then use the rest of me to help others learn.”

Hakim said his greatest hope is that people learn from his story that organ donation is not as scary a prospect as people think, and can do greater good than harm.

“It’s a great thing to give someone the gift of life,” he said. “And you can live normally afterward.”

Learn more about organ donation and helping others by visiting organdonor.gov, along with more about National Donate Life Month being recognized during April.