Vasundhara Raghavan Writes a Letter to the Prime Minister

28th November 2012

Honorable Prime Minister of India

Respected Sir:

Today, I have been given an opportunity to present to you issues that will be of importance for the country and Indian society. I will appreciate your reading this note and bringing the change in the aspect of healthcare that has troubled certain section of people of India, dealing with chronic conditions of kidney failure.

The kidney disease ranks third, after heart disease and cancer. The impact of the dreaded disease remains with the patient and family. This life threatening disease, chronic in nature comes with loads of management issues related to diet and health monitoring. High treatment costs,deters people of lower income to get treated. Subsidies are now available through philanthropists and NGO’s. But a huge thrust from the government will bring comfortand a ray of hope for survival.

I will take liberty to address the main issues as I see in a few points below:

1.     General awareness, to help restrict growth in numbers and offer patient support

World-wide it is recognized that kidney disease does not get priority attention. As a chronic condition, the disease gets complicated due to dietary impact on blood levels. This becomes a huge reason for embarrassment for the patient unable to remain stable and health deteriorates.  Medical non-compliance becomes easy way out. The high treatment costs, adds to the patients agony as there’s no way this expense can be compensated. All this makes patient sharing limited, as uncertainty of health looms large.

If awareness of causes and treatments are made public, people can save their kidney by early detection,close monitoring and live normal lives. If kidney disease is reality, knowing that long life is possible with treatments is another reason for awareness, especially for people with diabetes and high blood pressure.

Awareness of the sufferance of a kidney patient and how it impacts the family is never understood as something very real. Kidney patients’ problems are unique since it is also connected with diets followed, making each patients case different, vis-à-vis patients seeking eye-transplants. Hence society needs to respond to them differently, at different levels with support, physical or emotional. Recently a debate on a national channel failed to recognize the difference of treatment required and the challenges faced by a kidney patient, making the programme more in favor of legislators without understanding the apathy of the grieved patients awaiting an organ.

2.     Promote organ donation

Many efforts by nephrologists need to be commended both in spreading awareness and promoting kidney transplants. Kidney transplants are low maintenance costs compared to dialysis. Transplant is also a very safe treatment and enhances chance of survival. Indian doctors and medical practice is on par with international standards, systems are replicated well. Well trained nursing and strict compliance of procedures needed to be improved.

However, organ trade which exists in certain pockets challenges efforts to restrict it. If we can address this matter of illegal kidney transplants, it will help in restructuring organ transplantation in India, promoting cadaver and living organ donations. Some major Governmental pressure like this is what organ transplantation needs.

Organ donation from related donors may get spurred if financial incentives by way of tax rebate are offered. This will possibly help in getting family members to stand up to donate. Indians are by large family oriented and the gift of a kidney will strengthen the bond.

3.     Financial support

These may be considered for implementation for restructuring organ transplants.

a)     Government subsidy for transplant costs

b)     Tax incentives for donors

c)     Health care like that in US/Canada

d)     Non-related donors may be compensated in cadaver transplants

Sir, I am the mother of Aditya Raghavan, detected with kidney failure at 15 ½ years. It was caused due to a reflux, a congenital defect of a ureteral valve, leading the urine back to the kidney from the bladder. He was bed-wetting and an urologist advised us to wait till puberty when it will be rectified.

It became too late, and my son lost his kidney. He has had two transplants. I donated mine in India, after a mastectomy and when the kidney failed my elder son has parted with his, a few years back.

I have published a book, “Shades of Life, Sublime Joy is in Living” which chronicles the stages of progression and how my son fought the various health issues in the last fifteen years. Between the transplants he managed a Doctorate in Physics and is now engaged in a post-doctoral course at the Alberta University.

Sir, my services are available to any organization in India to promote the cause for kidney disease in any area that is deemed fit.

Warm Salutations,

Vasundhara Raghavan

Image Courtesy: [The Viewspaper]

Disclaimer: The above article is the personal opinion of the author and not of the publication.