An artist’s life seems glamourous. But sickness doesn’t discriminate.. If you’ve heard or read about Lourd Vijay, you probably know him as a Guinness World Record holder, professional dancer, and trainer. Lourd Vijay is known for his phenomenal contributions to the Latin dance world, the numerous awards and recognitions that he’s won as a dancer, and for his brilliance in several dance forms like Salsa, Bachata, Cha-cha, Zouk, Afro Cuban Funk, Freestyle Jive, Acro-Duo, and many more.
However, most people are unaware of the fact that Lourd is also a survivor of a chronic kidney disease. After having battled a severe illness for over three years, and going through an organ transplant, he is now set out on a mission called Spreading Hope.
In a brief interview, Lourd Vijay shared the bitter experiences of his illness, how it changed his life and his current mission, Spreading Hope.
Here’s a peek-a-boo.
You’re known for your dancing skills, but very few people know that you were a victim of a malefic kidney disease for over three years. Tell us a bit about that phase of your life.
Basically, there were very minor symptoms at first, and I thought it could be because of my busy lifestyle. But, I once went on a road trip with my family, and after I returned, I fell ill for several days. I had fever, chills, tiredness, and didn’t recover for weeks. That was when I was rushed to a hospital, and after several checkups, I was diagnosed with this kidney disease.
How did it affect your personal and professional life?
Even though it was not very painful, it was a traumatic experience. There were a lot of diet restrictions to follow, I couldn’t sleep at nights, my body used to be tired all the time, and I used to be very breathless. I tried to live a normal life with a dialysis, but that too was stressful. Moreover, the frequent visits to the hospitals, and the expensive procedures and medicines drained me financially. Overall, it was a very disturbing experience, both personally and professionally.
Was transplant the only solution? How difficult was it to find a donor?
Since I’d reached the fifth stage, transplant was the only option I had. Initially, my parents offered to be the donors, but they were ruled out because of diabetes and other minor reasons. So, I had to wait for the Cadaver Donation Process, which is a government led program. I was actually lucky to find a donor in just two and a half years. There are people who wait for more than eight to ten years to find a donor.
How long did it take to fully recover after the surgery?
Being on dialysis for such a long time, and the entire transplantation procedure affected the functioning of my other body parts as well. My lungs had become very weak, my heart functioning had reduced. And, the first few months after the surgery were very crucial. The average time to recover is about six months to a year. However, utmost care and proper medication needs to be taken throughout the rest of the life, because even slight ignorance can cause further problems.
How much has your life been affected after your kidney transplant? Has it changed your views towards life?
It certainly has changed the way I look at life in some ways. As an artist and a dancer, I always led a very private, self-absorbed life. I was too occupied with work to explore the other, simpler things in life. I think this Chronic Kidney Disease was universe’s way of telling me to slow down a bit. It also gave me a whole new purpose in life, and that’s how I started this mission, Spreading hope.
Tell us about your campaign, Spreading Hope.
Spreading Hope Foundation has been set up to get ten million people to pledge their organs, consciously and accountably. Organ donation is something that not much people are aware of. The purpose behind Spreading Hope is to engage with the government, corporate and educational institutions, and spread awareness about organ donation, and inspire people to donate their organs willingly.
We also aim to associate with corporates and the government to arrange fundraisings for people who cannot afford organ transplant, and invest in R&D to bring in cheaper treatments to make it more affordable for all sections of society.
How are you going to carry out this mission? Do you have plan in place?
We have a complete strategy chalked out with the help of a board of directors, who are stalwarts in their respective fields. We have a series of events planned over the next year. First, we plan to travel from Pondicherry to Ladakh, covering 9 cities, spreading awareness on kidney disease, offering free health checks and getting people to pledge their organs. The idea is to travel to different parts of the country every six months and even abroad to get the mission accomplished.
What challenges or setbacks do you think you might face while you’re on this mission?
There are going to be many challenges. People are very resistant to the concept of organ donation. Moreover, organ donation is not a simple thing. It’s not just about signing a card, and getting over with it. Even if a person is willing to donate, his family has to support the decision. The mission is to help interested people convince their families, and willingly register as donors.
We’re also hoping to link the donor cards with their Aadhar Cards so that the registration becomes more legitimate, and the entire donation process becomes more hassle-free.
100 million people suffer from kidney diseases and over 350,000 people die from the same every year. Lourd Vijay’s mission is an effort to create awareness about kidney diseases, and organ donation.
To know more about Spreading Hope, and to support the program as a donor, sponsor, or volunteer, please visit http://spreadinghope.in/.