Septuagenarian Jyotindra Mehta is a true fighter. Despite having to deal with multiple health problems and five surgeries over 42 years, including a kidney transplant, a coronary bypass and a prostate surgery, the south Mumbai businessman still wakes up at 6 am and goes to office every day.
Mehta (75), who also had two cataract surgeries, has become a role model for many kidney failure patients who now seek his advice for dealing with the disease.
It all started when Mehta applied for a life insurance policy in 1968.
“I found out that I had pyelonephritis (a chronic kidney disease) when I got a checkup done for the policy. Since then, I have strictly followed the doctor’s instructions. That’s how I acquired the discipline that has helped me stay healthy for so long.”
Over the next 10 years, Mehta reduced the intake of salt, sugar and stopped all kinds of junk food, including his favourite, farsan. He was put on dialysis in 1978 due to a deteriorating renal function and a year later received a kidney from his younger brother, Vinod.
“Only 10 to 15 per cent of patients who underwent a transplant in the 1970s survived for so long without a second transplant. However, Jyotindra’s will to live made him so health conscious that he’s alive and kicking even at this age,” said nephrologist Dr Bhupendra Gandhi who carried out Mehta’s transplant at Breach Candy Hospital.
Mehta started the Bhaichand Mehta Foundation in 1982 at the behest of his father — after whom it is named — to help patients suffering from kidney failure. He published his first book, Life With One Kidney, in 1982 and subsequently released several other volumes in Marathi, Gujarati and English. He also offers non-medical counsel to kidney patients.
“I was only focused on making money when I found out I had kidney failure. I don’t want others to make that mistake. Money isn’t the only important thing in life, our health is far more precious,” said Mehta.