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Celebrating Diwali to Make a Difference

December 2004
Celebrating Diwali to Make a Difference

Diwali is a festival that is celebrated with vigor by many communities. The Sikh community also came together to host a Diwali function at Bombay Grill on November 16th. It was organized by the Sikh Community Network, a nonprofit organization that was formed in January 2004 with the mission "to promote the economic, social and cultural development of the Sikh community."

However, this was a celebration with a difference. It was a Diwali that brought hope to Bittoo Sachar, Chirjeev Sachar and their 14-year-old son, Karanjeev. In March of this year, the Sachar family was shocked to hear that Karanjeev's liver had been damaged and that his only hope was to get a liver transplant from a donor. Since then, their son's life has revolved around taking pills and steroids on a daily basis, and fighting a sickness that has weakened him tremendously, resulting in loss of appetite and extreme fatigue ? factors that have forced him to give up activities he loved. The strength of the drugs, apart from the sickness itself, has caused tremendous weakness. A bowl of cereal is about all he can eat during the day, according to Bittoo, the pain noticeable in her voice.

Along with his family and friends, the Sikh community has come together in this hour of need to support the enormous financial burden that comes with such a sickness. Even after insurance coverage, a liver transplant would require the family to shell out $100,000. Of this amount, the Diwali dinner succeeded in raising $13,000. In addition, other efforts have helped to bring the total to $35,000.

Besides the financial support, Karanjeev's only hope of survival is in finding a donor, whose organ donation is appropriately accepted by his body. Karanjeev is waitlisted with the highest priority with the United Network of Organ Sharing. Ironically, it is only a dying person who can help Karanjeev. Only a full liver transplant can give him a chance. Bittoo explained how a family in Texas had put up a billboard asking for a liver for a member of their family, and in just three days the awareness created by the billboard resulted in them getting a donor. The Sachars are looking towards the community to step forward with such help.

Bittoo spoke of the love for Karanjeev in their family and his desire to become an engineer before the sickness. Now, going through the ordeal, he is determined to become a liver transplant surgeon so he can help others like him. Karanjeev still manages ?A' grades at his school despite the once-a-week routine in school.

More information on Karanjeev and his ailment is available at www.karanjeev.com and on organ donation at www.unos.org (United Network for Organ Sharing). The Sachar family can be reached at bittoo_sachar@yahoo.com for any kind of support.

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