Feroz Khan's toothy smile is infectious and his courage, awesome. For the past seven years, he has been in and out of hospitals, determined to fight a disease that saps the energy out of him.

At the age of 12, Feroz began falling ill frequently. He was diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), ordinarily referred to as lupus. It is an inflammatory, auto-immune disease that affects nearly every organ in the body, and the central nervous system. It could lead to kidney failure, if the patient is prescribed strong antibiotics and painkillers frequently.

Feroz's father, I. Razik Fareeth is an auto rickshaw driver and his mother, Mumtaz, takes tuition to support his treatment cost.

“We hail from Kizhakarai in Ramanathapuram. We were rich then but the treatment cost has made us poor,” Feroz said. His older brother is a final-year engineering student in a city college.

In 2009, he developed chronic kidney disease and was admitted to the Government General Hospital. Doctors suggested renal transplant but finding a donor was tough. “The only course left was dialysis until I could find a donor.”

His family could not afford dialysis in private hospitals. He had to drop out of school. Then, they were directed to TANKER Foundation for subsidized dialysis in December 2010. It was turning point for him. Feroz gained confidence and health, and returned to school to finish class XI.

But the disease returned the next year and he was on a twice-a-week dialysis regimen. Between December '11 and February '12, he was coached at home and scored 75.1 per cent in class XII.

“I want to do B.Com and then do a CA. It will take eight more years of study, but I will make it,” 19-year-old Feroz said.

Keywords: kidney disease

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