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Patient: “When I knew I would eventually start dialysis, we decided to travel’

Patient: “When I knew I would eventually start dialysis, we decided to travel’

He’s a doctor and he was well aware of his own health. So he decided to make every minute count.

By IU Health Senior Journalist, T.J. Banes, tfender1@iuhealth.org

He was working as an anesthesiologist at a hospital in Marion, Ind. and went in for a routine physical. That’s when Poopalasingham “Pete” Poovendran learned of his diagnosis.

In 1991, he was diagnosed with IgA nephropathy, also known as Berger’s disease. He wasn’t feeling bad, but test results showed high amounts of albumin and microscopic hematuria. Both are indicators of the kidney disease that causes inflammation that damages kidney tissues, said Poovendran, who celebrates his 73rd birthday this month.

“I had a kidney biopsy that confirmed the result and my first nephrologist told me I’d be on dialysis within in five to 10 years,” said Poovendran. “I didn’t want to go with that first diagnosis so I came to IU Health for a second opinion,” he added. At IU Health he met with Dr. Bruce A. Molitoris.

That second opinion gave Poovendran the hope he needed to live his life to the fullest. He was advised to manage his blood pressure and diabetes.

A native of Sri Lanka, Poovendran and his wife, Rekha came to the United States in 1979. They were married in St. Paul, Minn. where he continued his career in medicine. They are the parents of two adult children.

“When I knew I’d eventually start dialysis, I told my wife we’re going to travel to as many countries as we can,” said Poovendran. Since his diagnosis they have traveled to 75 countries in 30 years. Some countries they’ve visited as many as 10 times.

“Every country has its charm. We took a new appreciation away with us each time,” said Poovendran. In addition to traveling, Poovendran enjoys gardening, golfing, reading, and flying his Piper Archer around the country.

When his kidneys continued to fail, Poovendran’s family members began reaching out to others in hopes of finding a compatible living donor.

The National Kidney Foundation reports of the 123,000 Americans waiting for a lifesaving organ, more than 100,000 need a kidney. Living donors can donate an organ or part of an organ to someone in need. The donor can be a family member, or it can be a stranger who undergoes extensive testing to determine a match. The match is based on several factors including compatible blood type and health of the kidney and donor.

On November 19th, Poovendran received a new kidney in the care of IU Health Dr. William Goggins.

“My kidney came from an altruistic donor. I did not know her, I just knew that she was a friend of a friend of a friend who wanted to help me,” said Poovendran. “After surgery she came to see me and I cried. I am so grateful to her and the staff at IU Health. They have all given me a second chance.”