MANN ON A MISSION: SIMRANJEET MANN IS CHANGING KIDNEY HEALTH AWARENESS
By Crystal Nay
Sometimes it’s a wake-up call while we’re going about our daily lives that shakes us to our core and redirects the way we live. Sometimes it’s a blessing masked in tragedy. For 33-year-old Simranjeet “Sim” Singh Mann, it took a little bit of both.
Sim sits with the same kind of amped enthusiasm he uses to tell his story. It was in 2012 that this Ceres native was attending college in India, where he was studying to be a dentist.
“I was the NRI—the non-resident Indian,” Sim laughs. “So it was always a joke for the class to choose me to practice on.” The joke continued in his physiology class, where Sim was selected for blood pressure testing. It was during this routine class lecture that his professor noted something was wrong.
After a few more tests in his class, Sim’s professor told him to see a doctor. Sim now knew it was something serious. He was in his first year of dental school.
Sim was immediately put on medication and monitored, which required monthly doctor visits for three years, and an 8-hour crowded bus ride from his college to Delhi and then having to arrange and pay for all food and hotel accommodations. Everything seemed well, until one day Sim jumped onto a scooter to navigate the bustling streets of India and was struck by a car.
Sim walked away with scuffs, scratches, and one injury requiring stitches, but nothing too major. It was after his procedure that he was directed to take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs- such as ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen), which absolutely pummeled his already fragile kidneys.
“With proper care and treatment, my initial condition was reversible,” says Sim. “But, in all that time, no one told me the stage of my condition, which affected a lot of things.”
Fast forward, and Sim found himself on dialysis and desperately searching for a new kidney. When he found a willing donor, the Indian healthcare system refused to do the procedure. “I had a central line for dialysis in my neck. I would have to wander around India in 100-degree heat, wearing scarves to cover and protect it, but I would sweat so much, it was impossible to keep the area sterile. It was awful.” This launched Sim into depression.
When his father called him back for treatment stateside, Sim landed himself in the medical hands at Doctors Medical in Modesto, where a biopsy was tested by Stanford University.
He finally got a proper diagnosis—IGA nephropathy, an autoimmune disease.
Now home in Modesto, some of his long-ago acquaintances from high school bumped into him one day.
“We just started catching up. I shared my story, and suddenly I had three people volunteering to give me a kidney. I had lost hope in the plans I had for a normal life. My extended family and friends weren’t willing to donate. But here I had someone— an acquaintance from high school— who was offering to donate. It was incredible.”
I shared my story, and suddenly I had three people volunteering to give me a kidney. I had lost hope in the plans I had for a normal life. My extended family and friends weren’t willing to donate. But here I had someone— an acquaintance from high school— who was offering to donate. It was incredible.
SIMRANJEET “SIM” SINGH MANN
Today, Sim carries the transplanted kidney in his body and still retains his two native kidneys. It’s with this third kidney that Sim knows he’s been given a new lease on life, and now he’s on a mission to make a difference in the lives of people suffering from kidney conditions— those undergoing dialysis, on the waiting list for transplant, or have family on dialysis— with support and education.
Sim volunteers for the National Kidney Foundation has taken to the Indian community to create awareness and to draw attention to the need for action. He already has the Sikh temple of Modesto ready to support him and garners support from the local businesses of his youth by sharing his story.
“From Merced to Stockton, I want people to know that Indians are here to work alongside and promote awareness of kidney health, along with participation in community events,” says Sim.
To do this more effectively, Sim has created the Sikh Kidney Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to kidney health and advocacy. He’s also in the works to coordinate a fundraising walk to further promote awareness.
As for having to leave dental school in his final semester, Sim hasn’t let that dream go. He still intends to pursue a career in the dental science field.
“Right now, kidney awareness is my cause and calling; it’s why I was put here, and why God blessed me. I’ve got the fire, let’s make it lit!”