Kamal Shah

Kamal Shah

Hello, I'm Kamal from Hyderabad, India. I have been on dialysis for the last 13 years, six of them on PD, the rest on hemo. I have been on daily nocturnal home hemodialysis for the last four and half years. I can do pretty much everything myself. I love to travel and do short weekend trips or longer trips to places which have dialysis centers. Goa in India is a personal favorite. It is a great holiday destination and has two very good dialysis centers.

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Currently, I pay my entire medical expenses out of pocket. This is a significant part of my income. The part that I don't like is that I pay tax even on the part of my income that I spend on my medical expenses. This is not fair at all.

This struck me as weird when I realized that if someone donates a sum of money to a charity, he or she gets exemption on the sum donated under section 80G. Now, there is an exemption for medical expenses for an individual under section 80DDB. However, this exemption is capped at Rs. 40,000 per year. I am, not for a second, arguing that the exemption under section 80G for donating to charities is wrong. But, taxing money used for medical bills is absolutely wrong. There should be no cap. Period. What is the argument for a cap? Someone, please enlighten me.

We have no healthcare policy worth mentioning in India. Ok, we have Aarogyasri but that is only in Andhra Pradesh and that too only for the very poor (on paper at least). Its not like people who can afford their healthcare expenses can do so for ever. The money that I spent on taxes year after year could have been saved and I could have bought the NxStage System One, for example.

There is so much wasteful expenditure that the government incurs every year. The Haj subsidy, for example. Even true Muslims resent this and point out that the Holy Quran forbids this. Then there is the money that is spent on implementing various government schemes named after one politician or the other. Remember Mayawati's monument mania?

Any amount spent by an individual on his health (backed by a proper prescription and bills) must be totally exempt from Income Tax. I have a lot to say about the duty on importing medical equipment or consumables but that topic deserves another post.

It is high time the government woke up to this stark reality. It should really get its priorities right. If you cannot make life easier for us, at least don't make it more difficult!

... http://www.kamaldshah.com/2011/01/tax-exemption-on-medical-expenses-when.html

Well, you must excuse the pompousness but I am really thrilled!

My article, titled "Taking the Uncharted Path", got selected and published in the American Journal of Kidney Disease's (AJKD) January 2011 issue!

It all started with an email from Dr. Sidharth Sethi, Pediatric Nephrologist at AIIMS, New Delhi in July this year. He told me that AJKD was inviting "essays of fewer than 1,600 words that illustrate some facet of kidney disease through a personal story".

I then wrote this article where I described how I got on to daily nocturnal home hemodialysis. The article went through a series of edits, some suggested by the editorial team at AJKD to make it make more sense to a global audience which is unfamiliar with the Indian nephrology context.

Finally, about a couple of months later, I was told that the article was selected! And now it has finally been published!

This is the link to the pdf version of the article which actually appears in the hard copy of the journal and this is the link to the online version of the article. This is the link to the online version of the journal's January issue. My article is under the section "In a few words" towards the bottom of the page.

... http://www.kamaldshah.com/2010/12/my-article-gets-published-in-american.html

Tuesday, 28 December 2010 20:53

NephroPlus launching second center

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NephroPlus launches its second center tomorrow. This is a big step. So far, we had one center. All efforts were focussed on that center. Suddenly, now things become more complicated. Managing operations in two centers will bring more challenges. Catering to patients in multiple centers, making sure their every need is fulfilled, making sure the best possible care is given to them. 

The founders of a company are usually very passionate about what they are doing. The challenge is to make sure the same passion percolates down to everyone else in the company. The top management is rarely the face of the company for its customers. So, it is important for the management to make sure every single individual in the company works with the same motivation and zeal and has the same amount of passion for the job as them. This will be the main challenge for us at NephroPlus as we expand to truly become a 'chain' of dialysis centers. 

Tomorrow, the 30th of December at 10 a.m. Please do come and grace the occasion. We would be more than happy to have you!

... http://www.kamaldshah.com/2010/12/nephroplus-launching-second-center.html

I met with a few friends from engineering college a couple of days back. We had a great chat and caught up. I was meeting two of them for the first time after college, more than thirteen years later! One of them had undergone a heart transplant a few months after passing out of college. I was intrigued by his story. Here was a real fighter!

Vinay, one of those at the dinner mentioned how he thought that guy and I were really inspirations to him and how both of us looked at life in a very different way. We looked at the big picture and were not bothered by the little problems in life. He asked us if that was true. I nodded hesitantly. I wasn't so sure! It wouldn't of course, be politically correct to say it was not true. We are supposed to be really strong people. We were supposed to be the courageous ones. We couldn't care less about the petty things in life. Right?

I am really not too sure!

I thought about that on and off over the last couple of days. I realized that, at least in my case, that was not completely true. I still bother about the small things in life. I still worry about what others would think if I did this or that. It was much worse until a few years back however. I was constantly doing things others expected me to do. I had set certain standards for myself and I was constantly trying to measure up to them. Even though I was not enjoying it. Just because people expected me to live up to them.

Then I had dinner with Chetan, my best friend, my guru, my bro. I can hardly forget that day. At the bar in Taj Banjara. I was sipping a mocktail and Chetan, a beer. I told him about how suffocated I felt living this life. And then he told me those words. The words that changed my life. "Kamal", he said, "live your life like you are the center of the universe. And as if everyone else is revolving around you." He gave me an explanation too on what that actually meant.

I thought hard about this after and it made so much sense. Why was I constantly seeking approval from others? I must 'get a life', so to speak!

I was a changed man.

... http://www.kamaldshah.com/2010/12/does-chronic-disease-really-change.html

Sunday, 19 December 2010 19:11

Mangosteens!

There is a legend about Queen Victoria offering a reward of 100 pounds sterling to anyone who could deliver to her the fresh mangosteen! It is such a delicacy.

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I first ate a mangosteen at a wedding. It was one among many other exotic fruits being served at the dinner. I loved it at once. The waiter would slice through the outer rind of the fruit and then open it up and serve and we took a small spoon and scooped out the pulp. It had a sweet and slightly tart taste and was delicious.

I tried getting the mangosteen in many fruit shops in the city but nobody seemed to have it. The next time I got to have it was at another wedding! After a few such weddings, I was crazy enough about the fruit to actually walk up to the caterer for the wedding and ask him from where he got the fruit. He told us he imported it from somewhere. I asked him if he could sell some to me. He said he would when he got them the next time. Of course, he forgot about it soon.

A year or so back, I checked at Pure 'o' Natural, the fruit shop opposite L V Prasad Eye Institute in Banjara hills. They did have some. I was excited. I bought a bunch of them (they were terribly expensive) and rushed home to feast on them. As I opened the first one the way the waiter did, I was thoroughly disappointed. It was rotten. The next and the next. Almost all of them were rotten. Only one of them was good. My enthusiasm for the fruit disappeared.

A few days back, however, my parents went on a holiday to Dubai. There they saw some Mangosteens at a mall. They bought some for me. Coincidentally, that very same day, I saw some at Q Mart at Banjara Hills.  I bought a pack of 9 for Rs. 500! Very expensive! But what the hell?

They were delicious. Every one of them was excellent. I was thrilled!

When my parents got back a couple of days back, I got to feast on them again. Heavenly!

Here is a video on how to eat the fruit.

... http://www.kamaldshah.com/2010/12/mangosteens.html

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