Waiting for treatment at AIIMS

A woman who needs a liver transplant and a BPL family that cannot afford it

sonal

Sonal Matharu | June 28, 2011


Manju Devi, and her husband Naresh Sahoo, at AIIMS
Manju Devi, and her husband Naresh Sahoo, at AIIMS

For over a year, 40-year-old Manju Devi has been shifting in and out of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), struggling with a disease which the doctors in Bihar could not diagnose.

Complaining of abdominal pain, Manju first visited the out-patient department of AIIMS on May 31, May 2010 with her husband Naresh Sahoo, their 11-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter.

A series of investigations followed for which this below-poverty-line (BPL) family had to pay out of pocket. CT scan, endoscopy, various blood tests, x-ray could not make clear to the doctors what she was suffering from.

Temporarily in cubicle C of the new emergency ward, she lies unconscious. Her husband, a labourer from Begusarai in Bihar lifts the blanket to show her bloated abdomen. Her skeletal limbs are no match for it. He was told last week that Manju’s liver has failed and the only treatment which may save her life is liver transplant.

“The doctors here told me that the treatment would cost Rs 40 lakh. I am not sure if they were talking about a private hospital or AIIMS,” says Naresh, who, with his monthly income between Rs 1,000 and Rs 1,500, cannot even think of arranging.

“He doesn’t have Rs 4,000 for an injection which Manju has to be given every day,” says Pankaj Kumar, who is from their village in Bihar, and has been helping the family. He adds that the family has run out of money and the children hardly get anything to eat. The hospital authorities, however, say that no doctor has asked for money for treatment from the family.

“If the family shows us the BPL card, no money is asked from them. Sometimes there is a long wait in cases where an organ transplant is needed,” said Dr Rakesh Kumar Yadav, sub-dean, AIIMS, who is in charge till the medical superintendent and the spokesperson are out of the country.

Meanwhile, lawyer Rakesh Prabhakar has filed a case against the hospital in the Delhi high court for refusing treatment to the BPL family which is unable to bear the expenses. The case which was deferred from Friday to Monday has now been adjourned till Wednesday.

Naresh is uncertain till when the doctors would let her occupy the bed in the hospital. “They will take water out of her abdomen and discharge her. They did that last time as well,” he says.

On June 2, recalls Naresh, Manju was still unconscious when the hospital discharged her. They spent two days on the pavement outside the hospital and June 4 Manju was admitted in Safdarjung hospital with help from Kumar.

Safdarjung hospital referred her to AIIMS on June 7. It was only on June 22 that Manju was again admitted to AIIMS when she collapsed in the dharamshala the family was staying in.

“The doctors know when to discharge the patient. They would not discharge the patient unless he or she is stable,” said Yadav, refuting that Manju was discharged earlier while she was still unconscious.

Manju wails in pain occupying bed number 67 in the hospital’s new emergency ward, waiting for her fate. Naresh fears if she is not given the injection, the doctors will discharge her. He doesn’t have money to buy the injection. 

He says he will give a part of his liver to save Manju’s life. But the doctors have conducted no tests on him yet.

“If she dies, I will die here with her,” says teary-eyed Naresh, while his son, Monu, looks on.

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