Dr Shabnam Aghdasi, Neville Pillay, Lavern Tucker and Ahmed Al-Kadi Private Hospital press officer Suraiya Vaizie. SE-ANNE RALL

Durban - FORMER radio DJ and stand-up comic Neville Pillay believes he’s been given a second chance at life and has purposed himself to educate others about the importance of testing early for diabetes.

Speaking from his hospital bed following eye surgery at Durban’s Ahmed Al-Kadi Private Hospital earlier this week, he warned residents to get tested for diabetes if they showed symptoms.

Pillay said when he looked back on his childhood, he realised he had lived undiagnosed with the symptoms for many years.

“The weight gain, I was constantly thirsty, and I always needed to urinate,” he said.

Pillay, who suffered with cardiac- related illnesses in his twenties, said he lived in denial of what was happening.

He suffered a heart attack last October and was diagnosed with kidney failure.

In January, his body began retaining water and he gained 40kg. He urgently required dialysis and a stent for his heart.

Pillay’s former colleague, Damon Beard, stepped in to help highlight his plight on East Coast Radio, and through this, the hospital committed to operating on Pillay’s eyes, which were severely affected by diabetes.

Many of Pillay’s comedy friends have since assisted in raising funds to help with his medical bills.

He has extended his gratitude to all those who reached out to contribute, including his ex-wife, who he said had committed to testing to see if she could donate a kidney to him.

“I’ve been given a second chance at life and I’m going to make sure that I educate people about diabetes, dialysis and other medical issues associated with diabetes.

“Even if I touch one life, that’s fine. We need to educate families on how to assist those undergoing treatment. It’s a very trying time,” he said.

Pillay has to undergo a second, less invasive eye surgery, and he still has a long way to go before he is well. But he promised to be back on stage.

He said he had started working on new material for his next show.

The Mercury