Open Page

Setting transplant goals

more-in

With a donor heart, a 70-year-old got back her vim and vigour

Unlike 2018, most of which I spent in ICUs fighting an end-stage critical illness, 2019 was a great year.

My luck began before 2018 had ended. In October, I had a heart transplant and was rid of heart failure. Just the act of becoming disease-free after 11 years liberated me from the chains that shackled me.

The feeling of celebration rippled through every nerve in me. I was not walking, but floating in the air. At 70, to feel so buoyant is a rare emotion, but I live it up. I laugh like a child, my eyes crinkle, and the head bobs as peals of mirth escape my throat.

Between October and December in 2018, as I recuperated in Chennai after my transplant, I planned two goals for 2019. The first was to write. I found myself brimming with ideas that on days, I wrote not one, but two or three articles. If I did not write, I could not sleep and had to get up in the night to pen the draft. The floodgates to an inner passion had opened.

I wrote of my experiences, pieces for students and teachers. I discovered the personal essay and wished to test my writing and publish in top U.S. magazines. This December, my first story got published in Reader’s Digest. I feel good. Many rejections from American magazines also came. I am unfazed because once I understand what western readers want, acceptance is a given.

I joined some free courses in editing and fiction-writing, which I had never attempted. I have since written 10 pieces of fiction and shared them with friends.

Two of my stories have been selected for an e-anthology to be published by AdHoc Fiction (U.K.). One story was recently short-listed in an Australian writing contest. It didn’t win, but I am content with the baby steps I have taken.

Insured and safe

My second goal was to acquire a senior citizens’ health policy. Despite being eligible and healthy, no insurance company was willing to give it to me. No reasons were assigned. When asked, the standard answer was, “Because you are a transplant recipient.”

Frustrated, I complained to the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDAI). It supported me and sent me the most recent notifications which empowered me. I was convinced that insurers were being high-handed.

I requested my transplant surgeon to give me a letter on my present state of health, which he did and offered to answer the queries of insurers.

Armed with his letter and my most recent medical reports (after completion of one year of transplant), I went to the head office of an insurance company in Chennai. There I found the managing director and the senior staff receptive. They promised to consider my application on their medical panel. The MD called me the next morning and assured me they would design a new product and get it approved by the IRDAI.

Three weeks later, when I requested for an update, I was shocked to be told that insurance norms were not permitting the company to issue me a policy. That sparked off a rage in me at the unfairness of it all, and I argued with a ferocious logic that I hadn’t known I had in me. I asked them to redefine their outdated norms and pave the way for modern-day medical interventions, or to give me in writing why they were not insuring me.

I decided to move heaven and earth to get justice, including sending them a legal notice and writing to the highest in the land.

Two days later, I got a pleasant surprise when I was informed that I would be insured the same day. On December 7, I became the first transplant recipient in the country to get health insurance.

To the credit of the company, it’s now coming out with a product for transplant recipients. It will become the first insurer in the country to have taken this step.

As the curtain falls on 2019, I feel it has been one of the best years in my life because I was able to fulfil my goals and re-engineer my life. I believe this power lies within each human being. It is important to draw on it when needed.

vineykirpal@gmail.com

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Related Topics Open Page
Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jan 29, 2020 12:47:30 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/setting-transplant-goals/article30478970.ece

Next Story