At the young age of 24, I was told that my kidneys are failing. The year was 1988; I had graduated in Civil Engineering from College of Engineering, Trivandrum (CET) and had started working in Cochin. I had gone to see a general physician for frequent fever and weakness and this unexpected diagnosis was truly devastating. I immediately went to the Trivandrum Medical College Hospital, where my brother was a Post Graduate student, to do a detailed kidney assessment including a biopsy, where it was revealed that I had glomerulonephritis. (We now presume that it may have been due to the treatment for a dislocated elbow at the age of 12. I was given medicine to relieve pain; however, I was sensitive to that and my whole body had broken out in rashes which lasted for about two months. A course of injections and other antibiotics was required to cure it.)
With medicines and advice on diet restrictions, I returned to my workplace. I was advised regular follow ups. Back in Cochin, I consulted Dr. Georgy K Nainan at Medical Trust Hospital, and followed his treatment for three years. Thereafter, I felt fine and went back to my normal life. I got married in 1992, but a year later, I started experiencing serious health issues such as high BP, weakness, anemia and nausea. On testing, it was found that my serum creatinine was 10! I was advised to start dialysis immediately and told that I would need a kidney transplant.
I decided to move to CMC Vellore since it was a better and larger centre for transplant surgery. Thankfully, I didn’t have trouble finding a donor, since my elder sister Dr. Lucy Sabu willingly offered to be my donor. I continued dialysis there for three months while preparing for the surgery. On 16th June 1993, I underwent my transplant surgery under Dr. Jacob, who was the head of the nephrology department at CMC Vellore. I was lucky and blessed to have got a donor for transplant and be relieved of dialysis in such a short time. After the operation, I had a minor infection on the surgery site, but thankfully, it healed within a few days. My sister recovered quickly and resumed her job one month after the surgery. Since I had to visit the hospital for follow-up three times a week, my wife and I decided to stay at a rented house in Vellore for the next six months. Over time, my medication was reduced. During this period, I stayed active by walking four kilometers every morning and evening.
After 6 months of my transplant surgery, I returned to work as a consultant civil engineer in Cochin along with my partner architects and continued to visit Vellore for follow ups periodically. However, in 1998, five years after my transplant I was diagnosed with diabetes. I was given tablets and asked to make diet changes, while regularly monitoring my blood sugar levels.
As time went by, my wife and I were eager to have children. We consulted an infertility specialist in Cochin who suggested a few fertility tests which showed normal results. After a few IVFs we gave up the treatment, and in 2001, we adopted a two-month-old baby boy from the Missionaries of Charity. That was one of the happiest moments of our lives. We took him home and named him Mark. The arrival of the baby gave more purpose and meaning to our lives.
Over the next 10 years (2001-1010), a few health issues cropped up. I had to start taking insulin to control my diabetes. Additionally, work related stress and travel led to serious complications. In 2003 I had a chest infection and pneumonia. I had to be hospitalized, and fluid accumulated in my chest had to be drawn out many times. It had been a narrow escape; I realized I had to be more careful. Then in 2004, I had severe pain in all my joints and a feeling of extreme weakness. It was diagnosed as Bone TB. I had to undergo hip surgery to correct a damaged bone. With timely treatment, the infection was cured, and my condition improved quickly. However, I had to continue the medicines for one year.
Meanwhile, in 2006, we received a great bonus from God. While we were enjoying bringing up our son Mark and had forgotten all about the infertility treatments, God surprised us with another blessing. We had our biological child, a gift to Mark who innocently prayed for a sibling. We named her Esther. My wife was 35 years old then.
But over the next four years, I had to be admitted in hospital every year for two to four weeks. I realized that my professional stress was taking a toll on my health. So I decided to scale down my consultancy business and spare more time for my family and my passions. That decision gave good results. I didn’t need any more hospitalization or sick leaves during the next ten years except once in 2018. I am able to keep my diabetes and blood pressure under control with medicines and by following the doctor’s advice.
I am now 56 years old, and by God’s grace, completing 28 years of transplant. I thank God, my beloved sister Dr. Lucy who donated her kidney, my wife Sindhu who always had a positive attitude and promoted all my interests, my family who stood by me in all the ups and downs in my life, my doctors and medical staff and my friends who supported me and cheered me up. I am the director of C-EARTH Pvt Ltd, a company imparting services in architecture, master planning and project management having offices in Cochin, Trichur and Calicut. By God’s grace, I have been successful in my profession and could support myself and my family without external help. Though I have well off family members and friends I chose not to compare myself with the rich people around me. I decided to limit my needs to necessary things and my wife and kids are happy with what we have and find happiness in each little blessing.
That said, I own a house in a good location in the city, I have a small piece of land 20 km away, and small investments to keep me happy. I may not be very rich in monetary terms, but on a happiness index, I am doing well!
I am a travel enthusiast and have visited many places both within India and abroad during the last 18 years. I have also gone on adventure trekking, sailing and on a long road trip to Mumbai. I love farming and do my bit for the environment. I also indulge in painting to keep myself happy and stress free.
My humble advise to all transplant patients is to avoid stress, spend time with family, children and aged people, pray to God, involve in your hobbies along with profession, take medicines as per doctors advice, have food on time, walk 2-4 km daily, sleep well, meet friends and be kind to all people and animals.
Always keep a positive attitude. God bless you all.