Renal failure need not spell doom for those affected by it.
Though it is well documented that renal transplant is the best solution for end-stage renal disease (ESRD), a rising number of patients are taking a leaf out of Dr. Poornima Vyasulu's life - saying 'no' to a transplant. The indomitable doctor is showing many that dialysis twice or thrice a week need not hamper normal life in any way.
Dr. Poornima Vyasulu, diagnosed with kidney failure four years ago, was initially shattered. She went into depression, making her will and virtually "counting the days till the inevitable end was to come". Yet, after her first dialysis, Dr. Vyasulu, who holds a PhD in management from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, learnt that "there is life after kidney failure —with dialysis".
Says Vyasulu: "Saying no to transplant, that too from a live donor, came very easily for me. I have reluctantly registered for a cadaver donor."
Vyasulu joined a dialysis support group and her determination to get over the initial anger, led her to talk to other patients in the hospital. Soon a camaraderie developed over a common cause in the dialysis rooms. All the 52 patients were obsessed with the idea of forming a support group, with objectives such as: Creating awareness about renal failure, dialysis, and removing myths and fears about dialysis, counseling each other and anyone who is newly diagnosed, as dialysis patients tend to go into depression over time. The Dialysis Trust of Karnataka took form slowly.
Vyasulu, who is incidentally the secretary of the Center for Budget and Policy Studies, manages a hectic routine traveling extensively between her thrice-weekly dialysis. She analyses and studies panchayatiraj, healthcare and other sectors and policies. She drives herself to Sagar Apollo three nights a week, and gets home in the morning to carry on with her routine. She even manages to make time for her varied interests — theatre, and music, walking around the park near her Jayanagar home.
The dialysis trust is now thinking of going beyond the hospital's premises to reach out to patients in other hospitals. Consultant nephrologists who visit other institutions are excited about such networking in those hospitals.
Soon a registry of all dialysis patients will be created, and all the centers linked in a network, says the doctor. Dialysis patients in all these centers, and in 18 centers in other cities of the State, will be able to draw courage and support from others like them with the help of the Dialysis Trust of Karnataka.