Premchand, 10, is happy to be walking on his two feet, although with some support. So are his foster parents — Usha Devi and Mukut Singh — both daily wage labourers.
Last September 3, no one had imagined Premchand would walk, especially after the spinal injury, which left him in pieces.
His spine was sliced into two parts after being run over by the harrow of a tractor in the fields of a village near Firozabad in Uttar Pradesh.
In an eight-hour-long surgery, a team of doctors at Jai Prakash Narayan AIIMS trauma centre put together the damaged spine using screws and rods. They also repaired the spinal cord dural sac, which houses the spinal fluids, under a microscope.
His remarkably swift recovery in nine months has surprised all.
“We were sure that he would not live for more than a couple of hours, but for the persistence of his mother we travelled from city to city in search of a doctor who could save the boy,” said Dhyan Chand, a villager and an eyewitness to the accident. “We still cannot believe he is alive.”
The surgeons are also pleased with the boy’s progress.
“Our job was to do our best and even as the boy lay on the operation table, we were not sure whether he will be able to walk ever again,” said Dr Buddhadev Choudhary, consultant spine surgeon at Jai Prakash Narayan AIIMS trauma centre.
“We didn’t do anything extraordinary to revive him but followed basic science but with complete honesty,” said Dr Deepak Gupta, consultant neurosurgeon at AIIMS trauma centre.
According to the doctors who attended to him last year, the boy was in shock when brought to the hospital almost 14 hours after the accident.
“His pulse rate was very high and his blood pressure was sinking. He could not move his legs or his lower body,” said Dr Gupta.
“His condition was extremely critical as he had suffered over 30 per cent blood loss because of the two deep wounds on his back,” said Dr M.C. Mishra, AIIMS trauma centre chief.
“Since the family had wrapped the boy in a neat cloth, it saved him from outdoor infection and more so the bandage also helped prevent secondary damage to the spine,” he added.
Although happy, the family is still in a state of disbelief. “I have seen him recover bit by bit and I know it is for real. But I still can’t believe my eyes,” said Usha, who had adopted the boy soon after he was born.
While the surgery was free at AIIMS, a similar procedure at a private institute costs over Rs 5 lakh.