He lost 42kg to save his 'one and only'
TECHNICIAN Vikneswaran Mayilvanam made the biggest sacrifice for love.
He not only lost three quarters of his stomach as part of a weight-loss procedure, but he also shed half his weight, resulting in excess skin that forms a "cushion" whenever he lies down to sleep.
All because the 29-year-old wanted to donate a kidney to the love of his life, his wife Vikneshwari M. Rastrapathi, 27.
Two years ago, Ms Vikneshwari, who was then his girlfriend, was diagnosed with end-stage kidney failure.
"He was hell-bent on doing this," she said of her husband.
The problem: Mr Vikneswaran was obese. He weighed 107kg and had a body mass index (BMI) that was above 37.5.
The BMI of a person with normal weight is between 18.5 and 24.9. A BMI of over 30 is considered obese. Doctors said he needed to lose at least 30kg.
That's when he decided to take extreme measures to reduce his weight so that he would be deemed medically fit enough to be her donor.
When Ms Vikneshwari was first told she had kidney failure in 2012 and that her best option was a transplant, family members turned to her twin brother.
Unfortunately, it didn't turn out to be an option. Both her family and the doctors did not tell Ms Vikneshwari why and, till today, she still does not know the reason.
That was when Mr Vikneswaran decided to donate one of his kidneys to her.
By then, Ms Vikneshwari had been admitted to National University Hospital (NUH) and was treated by transplant surgeon Angeline Goh, a consultant with the hospital's division of nephrology.
Mr Vikneswaran was advised by transplant coordinators to inform Ms Vikneshwari of his intention.
"She was furious!" Mr Vikneswaran said, smiling nervously at his wife.
"Furious that I was putting myself at risk. But I told her she was my one and only and I had to save her," he said, tearing up from the memory.
But doctors said that his weight was an issue.
He opted for sleeve surgery, where a large portion of the stomach is removed permanently.
This has become the most popular weight-loss operation worldwide in the past five years, as obese patients are expected to lose 50 to 80 per cent of excess body weight within a year after surgery.
Mr Vikneswaran's sleeve gastrectomy was carried out at the Centre for Obesity Management at NUH in October 2012, a month before Deepavali.
Now, he eats only a fraction of what he used to.
"But the urge to eat a lot never went away. So whenever I feel I want to eat more, I would comfort myself by licking off the final drop of gravy from my plate," he said.
In five months, he dropped 42kg to 65kg and got the go-ahead from the doctors for the donation.
The couple married in March last year. Just five months later, they went under the knife together.
The transplant was done the day after Mr Vikneswaran's 28th birthday.
But there was no immediate gratification for Ms Vikneshwari after receiving her husband's gift of life. It took a whole month.
"I was suffering hypertension and headaches, but I refused to believe that this was what God had planned for me.
"The doctors put me through a battery of tests and found that there was scarring at two blood vessels where the new kidney was attached. I had to be wheeled in for stenting," she explained.
A stent is a small mesh tube that is used to treat narrow or weak arteries by restoring blood flow.
"As soon as I was out of the operating theatre, I told the nurse I needed to pee. She said to hold on while she inserted the urinary catheter," she said.
" But, before she could do so, I had already wet the bed."
It was such a joyous occasion that she sent a photo of the wet bed to her sister.
When asked if he regretted losing three quarters of his stomach, half his weight and one kidney, Mr Vikneswaran answered with a resounding "no".
"I never considered the option of leaving, not even when my friends asked me about that. Wari can always find another person to give her a kidney but where do I go to find another Wari?" he asked.