‘Tovino donated generously for Harish Pengan’s treatment’: Director Manoj K Varghese

Tovino, Harish
The director said that though the money was collected for Harish, the liver transplant did not take place. Photo: Instagram/Tovino Thomas/Harish Pengan

The friends of actor Harish Pengan, who passed away on Tuesday, were hopeful of his recovery from an acute liver disease till his last moments and they were especially encouraged by the help pouring in from several quarters.

Actor Tovino Thomas was among the good Samaritans who quickly responded to the monetary help requests of his friends through the mainstream and social media to urgently carry out a liver transplant, recalled Director Manoj K Varghese.

“Tovino donated a huge amount within 10 minutes of coming to know about Pengan’s condition. He even asked us to call him without any inhibitions in case of urgent need,” Manoj said.

The Minnal Murali fame last month complained of stomach pain and further medical examinations revealed that he was suffering from acute liver ailments. His condition began to worsen all of a sudden and doctors suggested a liver transplant. Pengan’s twin sister agreed to be a donor but he didn’t have the money required. It was then that his friends made the appeal for monetary contributions from willing persons.

“I can’t ever forget a small boy sending us Rs 7 for Harish’s treatment. But all those have turned futile as his condition worsened and he finally lost the battle with the disease, despite the love and prayers offered by a lot of persons, including his friends,” the line producer and director said with teary eyes.

“Harish is my neighbour and my close friend. Ours was a relationship from our childhood days. He first experienced stomach pain during the dubbing of a movie. He was earlier treated for a pancreas-related condition at Amrita and hence went to the same hospital. He was admitted there for more medical examinations. However, his BP dipped alarmingly the next day. He was even finding it difficult to breathe. The scan report revealed that his small intestine was fully infected, with ammonia getting mixed in his blood. Only then it was realized that a majority part of the liver has turned non-functional. Doctors informed us that the only way to save his life is to undergo a liver transplant. His twin sister Sreeja agreed to be a donor. The medical examination also revealed her liver matching. We’re rushing ahead with the liver transplant procedures.

“However, the whole treatment cost would come to Rs 40 lakh, including the surgeries on the donor and the receiver. Then our efforts were to somehow find the money. When I contacted Edavela Babu, the latter said there were technical hurdles as Harish wasn’t a member of the AMMA association. But many of his friends and relatives posted on social media and helped in collecting the fund. The liver transplant surgery procedures were hastened. But then suddenly his condition got worsened. Two days before his death, he suffered an internal bleeding. Though tests were conducted and the condition treated without wasting any minute, he suffered yet another internal bleeding in another area. When his haemoglobin dipped alarmingly, he was injected with more blood. But his haemoglobin level didn’t improve. He slowly slipped into a coma and breathed his last. All the efforts to save his life turned futile,” Manoj recollected.

“Harish used to say that he was given remuneration for the first time in the film field by me. While I was doing an ad film, the production boy faced some inconveniences. I told Harish, ‘Hey, there’s no production boy for me. I haven’t made any alternative arrangements for food on the set. What will I do?’ Then he said: ‘Brother, you don’t worry. I have people. I will make arrangements.’ Harish owned a small hotel. The next day he came to the set with some vessels. From then on, Harish donned the role of production boy and took care of the food needs on the set. From there we started. Harish who was interested in acting, played roles in the dramas staged locally. He got a break with the character Pengan in the serial ‘Kayamkulam Kochunni’. Thus he got the name Harish Pengan. Many good roles came his way. Many of them may be still to be completed. Harish returns after leaving behind a lot of good characters.

“Actor Tovino had sent a substantial sum when he was informed of the illness of Harish Pengan. No amount of thanks will suffice for him. He sent the money within ten minutes of informing him of the matter. He asked me to let him know if there were any further needs. A few friends and technicians who were close to Harish helped. Many people had promised to help.

“One day when I checked I could find that someone had sent just Rs 7. After a while, a phone call came. It was sent by the father of a little one who asked him to send the money kept as his savings at the earliest after seeing the news about Harish in Manorama. When the father told the boy that he himself was sending money from his pocket to help the actor, the boy told his father, ‘You may send your money but I want to send my contribution too.’ Those seven rupees were sent by his father on his insistence. He called me and said sorry for sending 7 rupees. When I heard the story, I told him ‘This is not just seven rupees, it’s just invaluable. These seven rupees are the love and prayers of that child.’ That's how love flowed to rescue Harish. But in the end, that love and prayer failed.”

About Rs 17 lakh has been spent on Harish so far. The family will soon release details of the financial assistance received by Harish and the amount spent, including the bank statement, Manoj said. “Though the money was collected for Harish, the liver transplant did not take place. I don't want to face the accusation that I swindled the money. Harish's body will be cremated at 2 pm today,” said Manoj K Varghese.

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