"I hope no one else has to go through what we did," says Rajesh* sighing.
The Bengaluru-based engineerâ€™s daughter, now 14 years old, suffered a kidney condition for close to a decade.
In 2006, Drishti*, who was then five, started developing swelling under her eyes. "She was not able to walk fast or run and she got tired easily," says Rajesh.
A visit to the hospital and a urine test later, doctors diagnosed her with Nephrotic syndrome, a condition, as Rajesh puts it, where "protein leaks through the kidneys".
Nephrotic syndrome may occur when the filtering units of the kidney are damaged. This damage allows protein normally kept in the plasma to leak into the urine in large amounts, which reduces the amount of protein in your blood.- National Kidney Foundation
Drishti was put on treatment immediately, which continued for the next four years, but all of it worked only like a temporary solution to control the disease.
She was given steroids which had their side effects including puffy cheeks and body swelling. She was then put on hemodialysis, the most common method used to treat advanced and permanent kidney failure, for a month. It was followed by two months of Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis (CAPD). A liquid is put into the patient's abdomen through a catheter to remove waste and extra liquids from the body.
This can also be done at home, which is what Rajesh and his wife did. "But we could not stand it for more than two months. "It was painful and is an uncomfortable process especially for a child. Also mobility is an issue, you can't go anywhere. Cold weather can be a problem and there is a need to maintain hygienic conditions the entire time."
Finally in 2012, Drishti underwent a completely steroid-free kidney transplant and her mother was the donor.
Rajesh was attending a programme organized by a private hospital to create awareness about the early detection of kidney problems ahead of World Kidney Day.
At the event in Bengaluru on Wednesday, Dr Vishwanath S, HOD Nephrology at Manipal Hospitals said that there is an "increasing trend" of children getting kidney diseases in India.
"It can also be because more such cases are now being reported. There's much more awareness around it. Also, earlier there was a bias towards getting boys checked up but not girls, which has now changed," he said.
Kidney disease can affect children in various ways- while some conditions are treatable, some can be life threatening if left unchecked.
Acute Kidney Disease (AKI) is a serious condition that develops suddenly, often lasts a short time and may disappear completely once the underlying cause has been treated. Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) doesn't appear with treatment and tends to worsen over time. CKD eventually leads to kidney failure (end-stage kidney disease) and needs to be treated with a kidney transplant or blood-filtering treatments (dialysis) for life.
Dr Vishwanth urged parents to look out for early symptoms of kidney ailments in their children, such as sudden weight gain, unexplained anaemia and weakness, fatigue and recurring urinary infection.
A sedentary lifestyle with no physical exercise, plenty of junk food, less water, can also play a key role in children being affected by kidney ailments.
"Obesity can lead to hypertension which in turn will affect the kidneys," he added.
Today Drishti, a Class 8 student, leads a normal life, is healthy, has put on weight and is doing well in her studies. She however will also have to get regular check-ups done throughout her life, avoid dust and people with contagious diseases.
*Names of Rajesh and Drishti have been changed
March 10 is World Kidney Day