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What happened when six dialysis patients went biking

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Six dialysis patients with a will find a way to go biking, and Shillpi A Singh shares their insight to help us clear many misconceptions

In the run-up to the second edition of world’s only Dialysis Olympiad, a first-ever bike expedition by patients on dialysis was flagged off from Ludhiana this month. The rally culminated with the felicitation of six bikers at the hands of Arjuna Awardee Rajinder Singh Rahelu, in New Delhi. Six bikers drove 400 km across eight cities in three states over a period of four days to give a strong message to others like them that dialysis is not a limiting factor to aim high and fly higher if they desire.

Organised by NephroPlus, a dialysis delivery network, the rally was driven by a guest-centric (as patients are referred to as guests) approach. The daring event involving those who have to undergo dialysis twice or thrice a week challenged many misconceptions and aimed to encourage many others who are suffering from a similar health condition to lead normal lives, working, travelling and having fun all through.


The young and the old

The youngest participant in the rally was Prikshit, 25, while the oldest was Sudhir Sehgal, 56. The others who biked all the way from Ludhiana to Delhi included Hariom (26), Sumeet Kumar (28), Balwan Nath (30) and Srikrishna (42). All participants are from Rohtak except Sumeet who hails from Moradabad.

Overwhelmed at the enthusiasm shown by these bikers, Rahelu says, “This is a great opportunity to create awareness. It will encourage people and help them tide over their mental block. Kidney failure doesn’t mean the end of life. In fact, one must remember such a condition is a reminder of the fact that life deserves another chance and everyone needs to live life to the fullest, come what may.”

The fighting spirit

Sehgal, who has had an open heart surgery along with kidney failure, goes through dialysis thrice a week. But unmindful of his debilitating health condition, he was quite enthusiastic about being a part of the bike rally and thoroughly enjoyed biking, from start to finish. “We were taken good care of during the expedition. Experienced and well-equipped doctors were also available around the clock for us. Participating in a competition like this made me stronger, and I’m thankful to the organisers for giving people like us a chance to shine. Dialysis is certainly not the end for us,” he says.

The others who were a part of the rally go through dialysis twice a week. Moradabad-based Kumar who runs a small-time cloth business, says, “The bike rally was a rejuvenating experience for me. It provided a much-needed break from my monotonous routine. I had biked around places in and around Moradabad, but covering a distance of 400 km was a first of its kind experience for me.”

The expedition started from Jalandhar, with pit stops at Ludhiana, Khanna, Ambala, Kurukshetra, Panipat, and Sonipat and concluded with a felicitation ceremony in New Delhi. “The longest ever bike expedition by six of us who are undergoing dialysis was meant to reinstate that with the backing of expert care, we can also dare to dream big and achieve what we aim for,” says Kumar.

On the way for a medical check up

The relay

The format of the expedition was a relay, with individual riders covering a pre-set distance, after which the baton was passed on to the rider at the next location. Knowing well the health condition of the participants, a team of doctors and nurses in an ambulance accompanied the bikers throughout the expedition. The bikers even went about their routine dialysis while biking without any interruption.

Vikram Vuppala, founder and CEO, NephroPlus, says, “A lot of people undergoing dialysis, unfortunately, believe that they cannot lead a normal life or cannot do things an otherwise healthy person can do. I am proud to say that we are creating a guest-centric culture at NephroPlus where all the 10,000+ guests are empowered to lead a normal life owing to our emphasis on holistic care. This bike expedition and Olympiad are part of our overall vision to make those on dialysis realize their full potential.”

The event serves as a curtain raiser to the second edition of world’s only Dialysis Olympiad to be held at Thyagaraj Sports Complex, New Delhi on October 29, 2017. “Dialysis is a solution to kidney failure problem, and that is the way it needs to be seen. NephroPlus is working relentlessly in redefining dialysis care in the entire country,” adds Vuppala. The event will have a series of Olympics style activities like running, cycling, basketball, etc. exclusively for those on dialysis. The first edition of the event was held in 2015 in Hyderabad, and it saw participation from hundreds of champions across the country, who fought their illness to reveal their extraordinary talents.

Extending special thanks to the heroic riders for participating in this event and for their contribution towards the cause of improving the morale of people on dialysis, Sohil Bhagat, vice-president, Strategy, NephroPlus, says, “We have always resorted to innovative solutions to enhance the quality of lives of our patrons. The event revealed how courageous, determined and full of life people such people are. They can lead normal lives. We are positive that seeing fellow people on dialysis take part in this expedition will dramatically improve the confidence of kidney-disease patients across India.”

The event proves to the hilt that people on dialysis across the world can lead long, happy and productive lives if they want to because where there’s a will, there’s undoubtedly a way too.