When the going gets tough, the tough gets going

Unassuming, warm and gracious.

That was our first impression of 80-year-old Mr Vaithilinga Pandithar Dakshina Moorthi when we met up with him for a photo shoot at his hair salon in Little India.

Neatly clad in his sky blue shirt and grey pants, the small-build barber was totally at home during the photo shoot. To the casual onlooker, he looked like a healthy and able-bodied person. No one would have thought of him being a kidney patient.

Never thought this would happen to him

photo_Vai_02Coming from India in his late teens, life was tough for Mr Vaithilinga who had no skills, but he believed that things would get better. Fortunately for him, he managed to learn barbering and became a full-time barber since the 1950s.

Life seemed stable until he went for his regular medical examination to check his hypertension which he had for 8 years. It was in 2001 that he was diagnosed with kidney failure. It was a blow to him and his family as he did not show any apparent sign of the disease, prior to the diagnosis. He and his family were in utter disbelief as he had no family history of kidney failure; much less any inkling of what dialysis was all about. He felt fearful and was filled with uncertainty of what the future held for him. It was an emotionally challenging time for him and his family.

As soon as he came to terms with his condition, Mr Vaithilinga started dialysis treatment at a private dialysis centre. However, within a year, much of his savings had depleted and he could no longer afford the expensive dialysis treatment.

NKF assistance

That was when he heard of NKF and sought their assistance. Today, he is grateful to NKF for helping him undergo dialysis at highly subsidised rates where he pays only about $60 every month, easing his financial strain. In addition, he receives treatment at a dialysis centre conveniently located near his home, which helps him cut down on travel expenses.

Undaunted by adversity

Despite having kidney failure, Mr Vaithilinga remains optimistic and has not thought of giving up on life. “He took it in his stride and always portrayed a strong and positive image in front of us.” said his daughter, Madam Kalai.

Having had dialysis at NKF for over a decade, he has gotten used to it and does not feel any major discomfort. In fact, he feels refreshed and healthy after each session, which motivates him to lead a meaningful life.

Good family support

Fortunately for Mr Vaithilinga, he has strong family support from his wife, 2 children and 2 grandchildren. Not only do they constantly encourage him, but they also often spend time with him and send him for dialysis during their free time.

Continue working despite his illness

photo_Vai_03Going to work daily may be a chore for most people, but having worked for more than 70 years and also determined to lead a normal life to earn his keep to pay for his treatment, Mr Vaithilinga would rather work at the salon than watch TV at home. He now works part-time daily, where he stands for about 6 to 9 hours, trimming haircuts with his deft skills.

Even at 80, working certainly has not taken a toll on Mr Vaithilinga as it has helped him attain a fit physique and maintain overall good health.

Mr Vaithilinga had this advice for others. “Take care of your diet and remember to exercise to keep fit. Don’t worry too much and be happy. Take each day as it comes.”

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