Finding hope and support thanks to the TANKER foundation

Shantha Kumar, 50, from Chennai, India, recounts his journey from being diagnosed with kidney failure to starting dialysis. Initially burdened by the financial costs of dialysis, his situation took a turn for the better when he discovered the TANKER Foundation. At TANKER, he not only found affordable dialysis treatment but also a team of caregivers who provided unwavering support, and with whom he formed strong bonds over time.

My name is Shantha Kumar, I was born in Karnataka and grew up in Chennai. I am 50 years old, I have completed my BBA and MBA (HRM), and I am married and have two daughters. My elder daughter is doing Hotel Management and the younger one is going to college. My wife is a homemaker. I worked as a Quality Manager in a leather garments company, which is an overseas company located in Chennai.

In 2007, I started feeling unwell. I consulted a doctor, who informed me that my blood pressure was too high. I had already been diagnosed with high blood pressure since 2005 and I was taking medication for it. The doctor prescribed some tests and discovered that my hemoglobin level and urine output were low, with protein loss. As a result, I had to start treatment with tablets.

After two years, I learned that both of my kidneys had failed, and ultimately, the doctor advised me to start dialysis. I was unfamiliar with the term ‘dialysis,’ so I sought clarification from the doctor. He explained in detail how dialysis works. After receiving all the information, I was genuinely shocked. No one in my family had ever faced this problem, and I had never heard of such issues before. I felt disappointed and unsure of what to do.

One of my friends advised me to visit the Government General Hospital in Chennai with all my reports to seek a second opinion. They also confirmed that my kidneys had failed and advised me to start dialysis immediately due to my high creatine and urea levels.

Eventually, I started my dialysis treatment. However, after six months, continuing with regular dialysis sessions became exceedingly challenging due to the high cost of this treatment. It significantly added to my financial burden. At that time, we were residing in a rented house, and both my daughters were studying in a private school, which made it extremely difficult to afford these additional expenses.

It was during that time that one of my neighbors informed me about the dialysis unit near Pachaiappas College on Poonamallee High Road, which offered affordable rates for dialysis. They suggested that I inquire about my treatment there. This is how I came to learn about the TANKER Foundation, and I am deeply grateful to God for showing me this path.

I visited the TANKER dialysis unit and met Mrs. Padma, who was working there. However, since there were no vacancies in that unit, she guided me to visit the Rotary Ambattur TANKER Dialysis Unit. Mrs. Malathi, who was in charge of that unit, collected all my reports and informed me that she would contact me based on availability.

After a few days, I received a call from TANKER Dialysis Unit on PH Road. Only then, I came out of the nightmare and felt comfort because I had been counting my days.
I am truly grateful to Mrs. Padma for including me in the dialysis program at her unit. In 2010, I began my dialysis journey at the TANKER Dialysis Unit, and as of today, I have completed 12 years of treatment. I am now happier and feel incredibly comfortable. The friendly and welcoming approach to treatment here makes me feel like a valued member of the TANKER community.

I would like to thank the members of the TANKER Foundation. In particular, I would like to thank:

Padma Mam: If I have to describe Mrs. Padma Mam, I never felt that she was someone that is in charge of the unit as she treated everyone like her own family member. I was impressed by the care she provides and her approach toward each patient, even in the part of unit operations. I felt very comfortable and protected. I am missing her a lot; this goes not only for me but for all the patients in our unit. 

Mr. and Mrs. MALATHI: If I have to describe our trustees, Mr. Venkatesan and Mrs. Malathi Venkatesan, it is difficult to find the right words. I first met them at our unit and only later I came to know that they were also part of TANKER operations. Afterward, I came to know that Mrs. Malathi was also a kidney transplant patient; I could not believe it because she is such a positive person to talk with. Whenever she visits us, I am happy to hear her positive words. I will never forget her until my last breath, because she helped me a lot.

Dr. GEORGI: He is the Founder and Trustee of the TANKER Foundation. Previously, he was a nephrologist at Madras Medical Mission Hospital. I met him at the TANKER unit during my dialysis and came to know that he regularly visits the dialysis unit thrice a week or whenever required in emergencies. I feel very comfortable with the treatment given by him. He helps me a lot with my treatment free of cost.

DIALYSIS TECHNICIANS & HOUSE KEEPING: All the staff in the unit including technicians and housekeepers treat us with good care and consideration. They are very good at handling the patients and making us feel comfortable. Mr. Giridharan, Mr. Guganathan, and Mrs. Malathi were the persons responsible, who took care of the Ambattur Dialysis Unit.

Mrs. LATHA A KUMARASWAMY: She is the Managing Trustee of the TANKER Foundation. She is very kind and treats the entire TANKER team (patients and staff) in a very good manner.

I pray to God from the bottom of my heart that all the staff and their families should be blessed with all good health and wealth and continue their good service.