Saurabh Rane

Development Professional | Age 25 | Multi-drug Resistant TB (MDR-TB) Survivor

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My Story

I remember myself as just another medical student who rushed through attending classes and studying as much to keep myself in the rat race of life. Until I started coughing and then everything changed. Despite all efforts the cough, fever and chest pain did not wear off.

I had just passed my final year of physiotherapy and was doing internship in a hospital, working post -college. In no time, I had lost appetite and a lot of weight. From a healthy fit man, I was a patient. Here I was pushing my ambition and working extra to be where I wanted to be and then life changed.

Within a few days, post rigorous tests, I was diagnosed as a primary TB patient. One of my lungs was halfway filled with fluid and it had to be drained out. Eventually in a few months, I again started having high fever, and further weight loss despite my ongoing primary medication. By now I was less than 49kgs from 66kgs, and could barely walk or move around. 


In no time, I had lost appetite and a lot of weight. From a healthy fit man, I was a patient. Here I was pushing my ambition and working extra to be where I wanted to be and then life changed."

This, however, was the beginning of my struggles. Another round of diagnostics landed me with a diagnosis of borderline Extensively Drug Resistant TB (XDR)-a severe form of MDR -TB with a death rate of 90%. I was resistant to a lot of drugs, and had to be put on a completely different treatment with injectibles and 20 tablets a day. Severe side effects included partial blindness, reduced hearing, hypothyroidism and other systemic involvements. This time, the treatment lasted for 2 years.

As I kept getting better, I decided I wasn’t going to let TB defeat me. As soon as I could, I began to work from home. I followed it up by getting out of the house, and involving myself in the active world. I lived 2 lives- I ate my medicines in bathrooms so no one could know. Considering the stigma, I refused to show that I was weak or unwell and suffered the side effects in silence.

In Jan 2016, I ran a short 10km Marathon while I was still on medicines to prove to myself and the world that if you fight hard enough you can defeat TB. This was when I openly spoke about being a TB survivor because I knew millions like me needed to hear from me. To raise the stakes for myself, I decided to do a 20,000 feet trek, when I finished treatment and survive TB. It was my final goodbye to TB. I strongly believe you don’t just have to survive, you can live your life the way you want to live despite TB.


I was resistant to a lot of drugs, and had to be put on a completely different treatment with injectibles and 20 tablets a day. Severe side effects included partial blindness, reduced hearing, hypothyroidism and other systemic involvements. This time, the treatment lasted for 2 years."

I survived TB only because I could afford treatment and my family and a few friends supported me. I wondered what happens to those who have neither the support nor the resources to fight TB?

So I got together with a group of TB survivors- Survivors Against TB- to think through the change we need, to help the TB affected. We realized the problems that most patients undergo start with lack of awareness, family support, misdiagnosis, expensive treatment, poor nutrition, and no counseling.

For starters, people need to be empowered with information and awareness. How is it that most Indians are insufficiently aware about TB? Free and accurate diagnosis must be made available for every Indian irrespective where they seek care. Every person diagnosed with TB must be tested for drug resistance. Free treatment whether in public or private sector should be the right of every Indian.


I survived TB only because I could afford treatment and my family and a few friends supported me. I wondered what happens to those who have neither the support nor the resources to fight TB?"

Most importantly, patients and families need counseling, they need nutritional and economic support. TB disproportionately affects the poor.

How do we expect them to fight TB without adequate nutrition and economic security? This is impossible to do and it’s no surprise people give up on this toxic treatment halfway through.

We put together these as recommendations and sent them to the Prime Minister, Health minister and other key government health officials. Our aim is to advocate for these changes so that the TB affected do not suffer the way many of us did.


Most importantly, patients and families need counseling, they need nutritional and economic support. TB disproportionately affects the poor."

I believe, like many other survivors, that India is not doing enough to defeat TB. The public and private sectors need to work together to defeat TB.

It begins with listening to those who are affected by the disease. Just medicines are not enough, patients need hope, acceptance and support.

Those at risk need to be safe guarded. Of course, none of this is easily done but defeating TB will need to start now. We hope that the government will pay attention to the suggestions and the fight against TB will begin in earnest. Until then, an Indian will die every minute of TB.


It begins with listening to those who are affected by the disease. Just medicines are not enough."

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