CHENNAI: Certain incidents in our lives change us forever, and Lourd Vijay, a professional dancer and trainer, has first-hand experience of it. Known for his proficiency in several dance forms and his Guinness World Record for maximum swing dance flips in a minute (39), Vijay is also a survivor of a chronic kidney disease. After having battled the severe illness for over three years, and going through an organ transplant, he is now on a mission, Spreading Hope. Vijay is all set to drive from Chennai to Bengaluru, via Ladakh, to spread awareness and dispel all myths about organ donation.
Vijay’s personal tryst with kidney disease was traumatic for him and his family. He was on the state registry for over two years, waiting for a donor, which he says was in fact a shorter time, compared to others who wait for more than 10 years. “I’ve been a positive person all my life. I knew I’ll get out of it. Something told me that I had some unfinished business, but I didn’t know what it was then.
But now, after surviving the disease and having met people who have given up the chance to live a normal life because they couldn’t afford a kidney transplant or dialysis, I knew I have found my calling,” he recalls.
After the transplant, in the isolation room, he knew that something had to be done. “I had built a reputation as a dancer over the past 20 years, I felt I should use that reputation to contribute to this cause...to give something back,” he says.
It is known that a dead person can donate eight organs, thus saving eight lives. The lack of awareness and fear caused by misconceptions prevent people from pledging organs. “After death, the body only decomposes or is burnt. So, when you can be of use even after death, why not?” states Lourd Vijay.
Beyond registering and carrying a card, the more important step is to engage in continuous dialogue with the family and friends. “Once we pass on, it is the family that needs to give consent for donation of organs. So it is important to engage the family on a regular basis about the wish to donate,” he explains.
Once a person is declared brain dead, they are eligible for donating organs, but at that minute, speaking to a grieving family is a difficult task. “The idea is to spread awareness to the extent that instead of the hospital approaching them, the family approaches the hospital about their openness to the idea of organ donation,” he says.
Spanning 9,000 km, the drive (in partnership with Davita, a healthcare specialist in dialysis), will focus on awareness, advocacy, education and also an ncouragement to the government to build better infrastructure for organ donation. Vijay will be driving across the cities of Bengaluru, Pune, Mumbai, Udaipur, Jaipur, Jalandhar, Pathankot, Udhampur, Srinagar, Leh, Sarchu, Manali, Shimla, New Delhi, Agra, Kanha, Nagpur, Hyderabad and back to Bengaluru again — a full circuit around India.
“The idea is to talk to people I meet on the way, engage and gather analytics on what more can be done with an on-ground reality perspective, “ he says, adding that a filming crew will be accompanying him to shoot a documentary film.
The drive also aims to raise awareness on kidney disease and the importance of taking care of oneself, “Any symptom, big or small, should be addressed immediately. It could be an indication of something larger. It should be checked. Your body is like a temple, always treat it like one,” he urges. The drive aims to inspire 10 million people to pledge their organs, over the next five years.
For details visit the page spreadinghopefoundation on Facebook