Husband donates kidney to his highschool sweetheart in life-saving operation

Durban: When Sanjeev and Urisha Deochand were high school sweethearts, he promised to donate his kidney to her.

In April, Sanjeev fulfilled his promise and underwent a transplant to give Urisha, who is now his wife, a new lease of life.

Sanjeev, a fleet administrator, is recovering from the transplant, while Urisha’s health has improved.

The couple, who are both 32, are from Verulam. They met in 2002 in Grade 8 at Verulam Secondary School.

“Sanjeev and I were in the same class. I liked him because he was loving and caring toward me. We started becoming friends,” said Urisha, who is now a human resources consultant.

In 2003, she was admitted to Addington Hospital to remove kidney stones from her left kidney.

While in the operating room, her doctor told her mother, Nisha Roopnunan, that her kidney had become too inflamed to operate and that it had to be removed.

“I was 14 years old at that time and my mother gave the doctor consent to remove my kidney. I was shocked at first but I had to adjust. Being in the same class as Sanjeev, he and all my other friends knew what had happened. Again he was very supportive.”

In 2004, after a friend’s party, Sanjeev asked her to be his girlfriend and she accepted.

“He was always concerned about my health. He made sure I ate and took care of myself. I remember him telling me that he would give me one of his kidneys if I ever needed it. I just thought he was so selfless.”

Urisha said her health was stable throughout high school, but as she got older she felt tired more often.

“After my operation, I was never told by the doctor to go for regular check-ups. I just maintained a good diet and rested when I needed to.”

In 2015, Sanjeev and Urisha decided to get married.

Their Hindu ceremony was held at Mumbai Dreams in Verulam and soon thereafter she fell pregnant.

“I was excited and eager to start a family with Sanjeev. I was now on medical aid and I went for a check-up with a gynaecologist at a private hospital. But due to my extremely high blood pressure and low kidney function, I was asked to terminate my pregnancy.

“It was difficult to deal with, but Sanjeev was there again to support me. We decided to try again for a baby the following year. I was admitted to a private hospital for tests and it was found that I had chronic renal disease and my kidney function was at 27%.

“Over the next few years, I followed a diet and had difficulty coping with life. I had extreme fatigue and most of the time I was sick. However, I had to continue with life. The bills didn’t pay themselves.”

She said in 2019 her kidney function dropped to 15% and she had to go for dialysis.

“My health was not improving and I gave up on life on so many occasions. I hated dialysis with every bit of my being. I worked a full-time job, had to be a wife, and had to battle lockdown regulations. It was becoming difficult day by day.”

Urisha said that in 2021 she consulted with a new doctor.

“He was an absolute godsend. Within the next six months, I was already added to the transplant list. Sanjeev decided to test to see if he was a match. I am A+ blood type and he is O+. We matched perfectly. We then had to wait for the transplant to be approved by the Department of Health.”

But while things were looking up, Urisha contracted Covid-19.

“I became ill in July and then followed my second miscarriage. This time I did not know I was pregnant. I fell into depression and I lost my job. Sanjeev stood by me. In February this year, he took my love for animals, turned it into a business and helped me open a dog-grooming parlour.”

She said in the same month he was also approved for the transplant, which was done in April.

“The journey has not been easy, but Sanjeev kept us strong, kept us positive and motivated me the most to get better.

“Currently, my kidney function is amazing. Sanjeev is recovering as his body is still adjusting to a new way of life. I thank God every day for him for giving me the gift of life and for being my pillar of strength through it all. I even started a new job on Monday.”

Sanjeev said he was doing better every day.

“From the moment I saw Urisha back in high school I liked her. It was her personality and character that drew me to her. I did this because I don’t want to grow old alone and without her.”

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