Beyond Money
A healing touch

Narmada Kidney Foundation not only provides information about kidney diseases but also explains how they can be prevented, Shukti Sarma reports

Each year, 0.3-0.4 million people in India develop end-stage kidney disease; only 10% manage to get treatment like dialysis or organ transplant. Apart from the serious medical complexities, the financial and psychological implications are huge for patients, organ donors and their families.

It was to help such patients that Narmada Kidney Foundation (NKF) was set up in 1993. “The patients wanted to know more about required care and medications,” says Dr Prashant Rajput, nephrologist and transplant physician, who works with the organisation. He adds, “Eminent nephrologist Dr Bharat Shah and his friends came together to promote awareness and support the patients and donors. Dr Shah managed its affairs, but his patients were the driving force in setting up this Foundation.”

NKF promotes awareness about kidney diseases and advocates cadaver organ transplant. One can listen to the programmes aired twice a month on AIR FM Rainbow where the doctors are invited to speak. “We believe that if family members want to donate their kidneys voluntarily, things should be made easy. But there are many legal hurdles, and permission often comes after it is too late. The waiting list is huge and patients cannot afford to waste time,” Dr Rajput says.

NKF encourages interaction between patients and donors. Every week, donors and patients meet there—which gives both a psychological boost. Additionally, there are screening and diet workshops and counselling about pre- and post-treatment care. NKF provides medicines and treatments at subsidised rates.

Almost 100 outdoor and indoor patients are treated daily; in a year, 50-60 kidney transplants are performed. Compared to other non-government organisations, NKF had a smooth start. But, as the number of patients went up, the fund crunch started. “We deal with patients from all sections of society. A few are wealthy but the majority earn only about Rs15,000 a month; 15%-20% are from slums,” informs Dr Rajput.

Through NKF, many underprivileged patients get check-ups, operations and medicines at subsidised rates. Some former patients donate, but major part of the funding comes from memberships. Life membership is available for Rs5,000, and annual membership for Rs500. “In many cases, more than one member of a family suffers from kidney diseases. In that case, if one becomes a member, benefits are extended to the relatives too,” says Dr Rajput.

It is difficult to keep up without corporate funding, but doctors at NKF believe that seeing their patients’ walk away smiling is more important. Recently, Dr Rajput performed a transplant, the permission for which was obtained after seven months. “It is an unbelievable story. This person was a bus conductor on a Modasa-Nadiad bus which had a two-and-half-hour-halt at Nadiad. For two and half years, he would come to Nadiad at Muljibhai Patel Urological Hospital for dialysis during that break. Dialysis is painful, and one can’t start working immediately after—but he would go back to his duty.”

His wife was willing, but her kidney was non-compatible. His brother-in-law decided to donate a kidney, but the latter’s family was not happy with their son losing a kidney. “So the search started again. Then, a man from Rajasthan came forward, whose mother required a transplant too—but she was in Haryana. Our patient’s wife’s kidney was found compatible with this woman’s—and there was a swap transplant between this conductor and that man, and the donor’s mother and our patient’s wife. He spent almost Rs2.5 lakh as bribe to get permission for the operation,” laughs Dr Rajput.

One can volunteer for NKF’s awareness programmes or sponsor patients. “The best thing to do would be to pledge to donate an organ,” says Dr Rajput. Monetary donations are exempt under section 80(G) of Income Tax Act.

Narmada Kidney Foundation

Anil Clinic
A-01, Navsanyukta Apartments
AG Link Road
Chakala Andheri (E)
Mumbai 400 093
Tel: 022 2836 8634

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