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Saurabh Rane lives in Mumbai, India and works as an associate in an artificial intelligence non-profit which builds solutions for health care and agriculture. He is also a TB survivor.
Saurabh contracted TB while finishing his internship as a medical student. His first symptoms included a fever, chest pain, weight loss, and loss of appetite. Within 10 days of starting to feel unwell, he was rushed to the ER where a chest x-ray revealed there was something wrong. Saurabh was initially misdiagnosed with primary TB for six months before further tests showed he had aggressive drug-resistant TB.
“It changed my life - personally as well as professionally. But it also made me tougher because I was told I had a 10% chance of survival. I look at life differently now.”
Saurabh describes his three years of treatment as physically and mentally painful. Along with six months of injections and nearly 20 tablets to ingest per day, he endured various side effects, including a weight loss of over 35lbs, jaundice, thyroid disorders, and even becoming partially blind for one month. “And if that weren’t enough, there is a stigma around tuberculosis which leaves patients isolated and lonely.”
Saurabh worries about TB patients and survivors during the COVID-19 crisis. With decreased access to health care and services, TB survivors and people living with TB are extremely vulnerable during this crisis. “TB is the world’s leading infectious disease killer, and this COVID-19 crisis can make the situation much worse for the TB ecosystem.“
Saurabh started advocating to end TB when he was 22, fed up with hearing that he would no longer be able to live a normal life. “I trained and ran a 10 km run while I was on active treatment, despite having permanent lung damage. I did this to show people what’s considered ‘impossible’ is just a state of mind. I opened up about my condition on social media and it sent a wave of disbelief into society.”
Saurabh continues to advocate for TB through offering peer support to patients and survivors as well as working with national TB programs and international agencies to amplify patient perspectives.
When asked what Canadians can do to help in the fight to end TB, Saurabh called on Canadians to use their voices and urge their government to join the global effort to eradicate TB. “TB does not discriminate. Everyone and anyone can get infected. This is your problem, this is my problem and this is a global challenge.”
“With 10 million people infected worldwide from India to Canada, we have a responsibility to do our part. As a developed nation of immense potential, it is extremely important to invest in both research and development as well as to find a treatment to end TB. Urge your government to take this seriously and join the effort to build a TB-free world.”