The grim faces of veteran actress Sethulakshmi and her daughter-in-law lit up when they received a phone call from actress Ponnammma Babu. Sethulakshmi was at the PRS Hospital in Thiruvananthapuram, where her son Kishore is being treated for ailment and requires urgent kidney transplant, when she got the call.
Recently, Sethulakshmi had come live on Facebook seeking help for her son’s treatment. In the video, she was seen saying that her son can be saved only if his kidneys are transplanted soon. Now, the family sees a ray of hope with Ponnamma Babu offering to donate one of her kidneys to Kishore.
Sethulakshmi told Onmanorama that she has been receiving numerous calls offering help. She was all the more glad when Ponnamma Babu called her. “I can’t bear to watch your tears anymore. I will donate my kidney to Kishore. I don’t know whether I can as I am old. You should ask the doctors and let me know. I will definitely come,” she told Sethulakshmi.
“I informed this to my son as well. He was really happy,” said Sethulakshmi.
The actress then shared the painful tale of her son who has been suffering for the last 14 years.
Sethulakshmi said that the doctor scolded her family for ignoring the symptoms of severe kidney ailment for so long and seeking treatment only when it turned critical. Kishore’s kidneys were diagnosed as failed and the doctor said that there was no chance of survival unless an immediate transplant is done. Sethulaksmi who had suffered a massive heart attack earlier, couldn’t control her tears when she heard the news and pleaded with the doctor to save her son.
Sethulakshmi has spent most of her time in hospitals than on shooting sets in the recent past. When her Facebook video became viral, there were some who doubted whether film personalities like her needed help.
Doctors have said that it would cost at least Rs 40 lakh to save Kishore’s life. “I am trying my best to save money. But it is difficult for me to arrange such a huge amount of money. Like a clown who is destined to make others smile, I am holding back my tears and going to the locations to act. I want nothing more than my son’s life,” said Sethulakshmi with tears in her eyes.
However, this mother’s pleas are being heard by the Keralites who love watching her on screen. The prayers and help from hundreds of kindhearted people are flowing to the dialysis wing of the PRS Hospital.
A lending hand
Meanwhile, when Onmanorama contacted Ponnamma Babu she revealed that her decision to donate her kidney to Kishore was not out of generosity. “I know Sethuchechi (Sethulakshmi) since the days we were acting in plays. I couldn’t bear seeing her helplessness. I am not wealthy enough to spend so much of money. This is all I can do for her son. I told her that I am ready to give my kidney. I am not sure whether Kishore could receive my kidney as I am aged and have a few health related problems. If everything goes well I am ready to donate. The rest lies in the hands of the doctors and the almighty,” said Ponnamma Babu.
Kishore, who does stage and serial productions, had immersed himself in work for years, ignoring the severe leg pain and swelling. Hardly did he realiae then that it was the beginning of a deadly disease. “My son had lived, silently suffering for 14 long years, after both his kidneys were damaged. I wish we had sought treatment a little earlier,” admitted Sethulakshmi.
“One day, after returning from work at Marthandam, he complained that his legs were swollen. When it increased with passing days I asked him to consult a doctor. But consoling me, he said, ‘How can an artist like you say this amma? Everyone who runs around like I do would have swollen legs.’ He applied my medicinal oil on his legs. He then ignored it as the oil may have given some temporary relief. After that both of us became busy in our own works. He is not someone who would sit at home, doing nothing, just because his mother is an actress. One day he fell unconscious in one of the sets. There began our ordeal,” she recalled.
It was already late when Kishore was admitted to the hospital. Sethulakshmi said that the family was further devastated when people began to blame them for not seeking treatment earlier. “We thought our lives had ended there. We cursed those years when we ignored the symptoms and didn’t go to the hospital. I was greatly pained that his illness could have been diagnosed earlier had I taken an initiative,” she said.
Sethulakshmi confessed that she thought she would suffer another heart attack when she learned about her son’s illness. “I prayed to God to let me live until my son’s life is saved. I couldn’t think of him suffering in this world along with his wife and two children. I worked hard to save money for his treatment. In the beginning, I could manage the expenses of Kishore’s treatment and still run the house. That was a time when I was working prolifically and earning well. But now the medical expenses have exceeded beyond what I could manage. Me and my son are helpless in front of the doctor who has warned that he would lose his life if the transplant is not done immediately,” Sethulakshmi narrated her ordeal.
“When my son says he wants to live at least till his elder child turns 18, my heart breaks. I am determined to save him as I have promised him that I would always be with him. The small savings that I had, to build a house, was spent on his treatment. Sethulakshmi, whom you know as a film actress, actually lives in an ordinary rented house,” she revealed.
Sethulakshmi said that she was sure from the doctor’s words that she would lose Kishore if the treatment was further delayed. The helpless mother, who doesn’t know anything about WhattsApp or Facebook, didn’t have any qualms about appearing in a video begging for her son’s life. It was Kishore’s friends who asked Sethulakshmi to explain her plight in front of the camera so that people will know about it. She said, “Lots of people are offering us help. I ask everyone to pray for my son. The rest is in the hands of the God.”
After watching Sethulaksmi’s video, hundreds of people are offering to help the family. The actress confirmed that Kishore has been shifted to a better hospital. Doctors say that Kishore’s condition is critical and have to administer injections worth Rs 6,500 when he complains of severe pain.
The doctors have advised the family that they should have at least Rs 35 lakh in hand when they are ready for the operation. Three persons, including Ponnamma Babu, have agreed to donate their kidneys. Sethulakshmi said that if someone donates their kidney, the expenses would hopefully be limited to Rs 25 lakh. As her bank account details weren’t shared in the video, Kishore’s friends have posted the details of an account, exclusively opened for his treatment, on Facebook.