Offering help to those on dialysis

It's all for this

It's all for this  

MALADIES OF the kidney could quite drain the wallet like no other, unless a permanent cure is put in place. Even then, the cost of transplantation and post-surgical drugs is exorbitant. With more and more younger people falling prey to it, the manpower lost is considerable. This does not necessarily mean those with kidney disease have no future. The affected cannot be left to their fate. For, once treated, these people can go on to lead perfectly ordinary lives.

"All they need is a little bit of support to help them tide over difficulties," the chief nephrologist of K. G. Hospital and head of the K. G. Kidney Care Foundation (KGKCF), Dr. R. Balasubramaniyam, says.

Providing such help is the `Save a life today' project of the KGKCF. Under this, a patient on haemodialysis at the hospital is provided one free dialysis a month, with funds from philanthropists. Considering that each patient has to, on an average, undergo 8-12 dialyses a month, the project comes as an opportune monetary relief. Started in April 2001, about 500 free dialyses have been done under the project.

"As a doctor, we cannot differentiate between those who that can afford and those that can't. And a disease is a disease. Initially, we asked the hospital to subsidise the charges, but over a period of time, realised something else had to be done," says the doctor.

Recalling how the project came into being, Dr. RBS, as he is popularly known, says it was conceptualised during one of their Kidney Care Days, a get-together of former and current kidney patients. "We initiated the project on January 1, 2001, and started providing the free dialyses from April 14, the same year. In that period, we managed to collect hardly Rs. 15,000. Even now, funds are not very forthcoming. If one of our team members speaks to 10 people, only one contributes," he adds. n the positive side, families of patients are willing to donate towards this cause, probably because they know what a financial drain it could be. "Now, we manage to provide one free dialysis a day. If more funds come in, that number could go up to two," he remarks. Also, when higher amounts are donated, the foundation uses the money to keep a transplanted kidney alive.

There are those who raise questions as to why a hospital needs donations and if the benefit reaches the patient. "To silence this, we get a `Thank You' letter from the patient and one from the doctor concerned and send it to the donor, who made that day's free dialysis possible," Dr. RBS informs.

Walk into the dialysis ward and you get to see people from different walks of life. You know dialysis is vital, but seeing them lying on the bed waiting for the machine to clean their blood, you suddenly realise this either makes or breaks their life. Says Amruth Begum, who has been undergoing dialysis for some years now, "I feel weak without dialysis. Once it is done, I am up and about for two days. Then, the weakness returns. This free dialysis is a boon."

To ensure that only the needy are roped in for the project, the foundation has worked out a list of 35 patients. And, the people seem to be honest. "There are some who have asked to be shifted out of the programme, saying they can afford it," says the nephrologist. To help, all one needs to do is earmark Rs. 1,000 for a special day every year. "People usually reserve the free dialyses for their birthdays, anniversaries and the like," the doctor says.

If you are interested in doing the same, call Dr RBS on 98430 66640 or Nirmala on 2212121 Ext: 4533.

By Subha J Rao

Photo: K. Ananthan

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