Mother is the greatest blessing for a child by God – this adage has been truly manifested by a mother for her 16-year-old daughter, she donated her kidney to redeem her daughter’s life.
Chimi Lhazin Kitshog, a 16-year-old patient with end-stage kidney disease is on her medical journey to get a kidney transplant at Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore, Chennai in India with her parents.
“I couldn’t believe my ears when the doctors informed me that I am suffering from end-stage kidney disease because I didn’t experience other symptoms like swelling legs or not being able to walk.”
It came as no surprise when Sangay Dema and Tashi Chosang (Kitshog’s parents) came forward to donate their organs when the nephrologists (Kidney Doctor) advised them to look for a potential kidney donor.
Luckily her mother, Sangay Dema’s organ matched and was identified as a potential donor although her father’s blood group didn’t match.
“When my mother came forward to donate her kidney, I felt sad, it’s like she is giving me a chance to live,” said Kitshog.
Kitshog lived on a life supported by a dialysis machine cleaning the waste out of her blood since April this year. She was admitted several times in the hospital, the last one was before she flew to Vellore. She was admitted for a week due to an infection through the dialysis pipe.
It was last year in November when she started to grow weak. She was giving a class X trial examination in Gyalposhing Higher Secondary School.
She was rushed to Gyalposhing hospital before clearing her last two papers. She was then referred to Eastern Regional Referral Hospital in Mongar.
“When I was sick, I didn’t do a blood test and only checked my blood pressure which was normal,” she said.
For further treatment, she was referred to the national hospital at Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) in Thimphu. The doctors realized she is suffering from end-stage kidney disease.
It was learnt that Kitshog had been complaining of constant and unbearable headaches since the age of 13. Her father claimed that her blood pressure was normal during the checkups. She was diagnosed with migraine and put under treatment accordingly by a physician.
Bhutan Kidney Foundation (BKF) has been assisting Kitshog and her parents in terms of educating and supporting some social aspects since the day the family knew of her medical conditions.
The family completed all the required checkups and follow-ups both clinical and legal. After assessing the family background, BKF decided to provide financial support of Nu 22,500 every month until they get discharged from the Liaison Office in Vellore. BKF conducts assessments based on the foundation’s beneficiary support guideline.
Similarly, BKF’s beneficiary support programme identified six areas to provide relief to kidney disease patients and their families. The foundation spends funds to support essentials at the patient guest house, review and treatment outside Bhutan, children’s education and accommodation expenses, Gelephu patient guest house, commiseration (semso) and expenses on travel, food and accommodation.
This year, BKF released financial support of Nu 1.6 million so far to support 150 beneficiaries.
Kidney patients say that enduring dialysis for a longer time could mean losing one’s weight rapidly and the strength to stand on one’s feet.
The entire medical expenditure and travel charges are borne by the Royal Government of Bhutan (RGoB). RGoB sanctions almost a million ngultrum for each kidney patient to visit CMC, Vellore for transplant.
Kidney patients need to be mindful of their diet. They can’t eat everything they like.Kitshog shared that she loves fruits but sadly she cannot eat all the fruits she wants. But during dialysis, she is allowed to eat apples and watermelon. No matter how thirsty you are, kidney patients shouldn’t drink more than 500ml of water. “I avoid junk foods, oily foods and only eat recommended by the doctors,” she said.
Everytime she goes under a dialysis session, she feels dizzy. During each session she loses more than 3 kilograms. Her weight reduced from 46 to 42 kg after a session of dialysis in Vellore. “I am surprised, during my dialysis session in Vellore I didn’t experience headache like I used to feel in Bhutan,” she said.
Kitshog shared her interest said to be a doctor in future. She wants to advocate people to visit the hospital even if it is just a headache and do thorough checkups. “It’s risky and many ignore it and later contribute to organ failure, like in my case kidney failure,” she said.
She said there were some 13 Bhutanese patients at CMC currently and one 13-year-old girl waiting to transplant a kidney. “Doctore says that it’s better to get kidney transplant than living the rest of my life on dialysis and I am lucky to have a selfless mother,” she said.
The nephrologists told us that it has been three months since my kidney failed. “If I had done the thorough check-up, I could have been cured and saved.”
She said one should also seek help from the divine, from a religious point of view, not just from a hospital. “We should have faith in the god, and pray for speedy recovery and not just rely completely on medical treatment,” said Kitshog.
“I want to be a good daughter for my loving parents and support them in all ways possible, I want to keep them with me when I grow up,” said Kitshog.
She tries to divert her pain by staying engaged in social media apps like tik-tok and online games like a mobile legend.
During her school days, she used to play all sorts of games. She can’t wait to resume her gaming activities once her kidney gets stable and normal. The doctors advised her that she can do it “once I won first place in the athletics competition in the high jump, and I love playing basketball,” said Kitshog.
Kitshog also loves to be a model. She recalls how the nurses and doctors made her laugh. They asked whether she wishes to represent Bhutan and asked if I am interested in contesting some beauty pageants like Miss Bhutan and Miss Universe.
She will have to stay in Vellore for at least six months. She said, “I miss my two younger sisters and I feel sorry for them as I get their share of love and care from my parents right now. I also miss Bhutan’s fresh air and water.”
She wants to thank everyone who supported her throughout her medical journey and she sends special thanks to Gyaltshab and their Majesties.”If it wasn’t for Gyaltsab, my father was not granted leave for genuine reasons and the office wouldn’t pay him, “said Kitshog.
Kitshog hopes to live a normal like any other girl of her age. “I believe that I can do everything that a normal people do like driving, working, having family and many more once my kidney gets stable,” she said.