In 1997, 21-year-old Kamal Shah was all set to follow his dream of pursuing his master’s degree in engineering in the US. With a visa in tow and just two weeks to go, he proceed to complete the formalities that included preventive vaccination. What began as a slight fever deteriorated into emergency hospitalization. Within hours, his kidneys had failed and he needed hemodialysis to flush out the toxins from his body.
Thus began a painful journey of dealing with atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (AHUS) quashing his dreams. But Kamal refused to let the kidney disease define him. With lessons learnt dealing with the disease, he, along with co-founder Vikram Vupulla, set out to revolutionize dialysis care in India. Laying the foundation of a patient-centric NephroPlus network in 2009.
Silver Lining: Overcoming Adversity to Build NephroPlus- Asia’s Largest Dialysis Provider by Kamal Shah is a deeply personal and inspiring memoir. Part personal and part business memoir, it chronicles the author’s journey over the past 25 years.
“To me, quality of life was paramount. I needed to lead a normal life or as close to that as I could get. Every time I had a problem, I tried to figure out how I could get back my life. That was the only motivation. Nothing else. Normality is the only thing I desired.“
The personal memoir is an intimate insight into the author’s journey from the AHUS diagnosis, a failed renal transplant, a brief respite with peritoneal dialysis that was crushed abruptly due to the 2004 tsunami, and finally home dialysis. It is raw and emotional. The author holds nothing back. The grit and determination to lead a full life. A proactive approach to his treatment.
The business memoir narrates the journey of building up NephroPlus from scratch to more than 300 centres across four countries. It is a conversation on the healthcare ecosystem in India. Commercialization, exhaustive costs, cookie-cutter treatments, and lack of standardized protocols that often result in dialysis patients getting infected with hepatitis. It is also an honest look at the startup environment. The seed funding and wheeling dealings. The business aspect of running such a wide network of dialysis centers.
“Making the patient a part of the decision-making process cannot be an afterthought…. It’s their life and they deserve to know what options they have.“
The exhaustive treatment and regular dialysis take a toll on the physical, mental, and financial well-being of the patient and the family. In India, kidney failure and dialysis are considered a death knell. The author set out to change this perspective. Leading from the front, inspiring patients to lead a normal life. Making dialysis more affordable. Hosting patient-centric event Aashayein to Dialysis Olympiad that includes track and field events.
Kamal Shah sought a silver lining in the dark of times. True to its name, the book serves as a silver lining to kidney patients and their families too. A testimony of personal strength in the face of adversity. Of taking on the challenges. About inspiring others. Busting the popular myth that a dialysis patient cannot lead a full life.
What began as a personal blog in 2007 that documented the author’s journey has been an inspiration to millions. A blog that was instrumental in building the NehproPlus network. A strong-willed desire to ensure dialysis was accessible for every patient.
I would highly recommend the book. Not just as a compelling memoir but also to educate yourself about chronic kidney disease. How does one rate a journey so personal? I would give it an all five stars for the readability and impact.
About Kamal Shah
Kamal Shah was diagnosed with kidney failure in 1997 at the age of 21. He was immediately put on dialysis. He underwent an unsuccessful kidney transplant in 1998. He’s been on dialysis ever since – about 26 years to date. Kamal believes people can lead normal lives despite being on dialysis. He works full-time, swims every morning, travels and has fun – all things a healthy person does. To enable more and more people to lead normal lives on dialysis, Kamal co-founded NephroPlus in 2009 which is India’s largest dialysis provider. With a presence in 4 countries, serving 22,000+ patients in about 320 centres, NephroPlus is a truly patient-centric company that has made a difference to thousands of lives over the years.
I would like to thank the author Kamal Shah and the publisher Penguin Random House for providing a copy of the book in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own.