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Hospitals pitched in to save their limbs

delhi Updated: Jun 29, 2011 02:02 IST
Rhythma Kaul
Rhythma Kaul
Hindustan Times
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Dayanand Kumar (21), a pan shop owner in New Delhi’s South Extension area, can walk again. Thanks to doctors and nurses at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, who went out of their way to arrange funds for the daily wager, who manages to earn little over Rs 50 a day.

Diagnosed with cancerous tumour of the right femur bone, osteo sarcoma, in 2008, leg amputation had been the only solution for people suffering from the disease till some time ago. For Kumar, a resident of Motihari district in Bihar, loss of leg meant loss of livelihood.

“Apart from the fact that we now have local implants available at one-fourth of the cost, his downright refusal to part with his leg made us take the risk of performing the limb salvage surgery,” said Dr Yatinder Kharbanda, senior joint replacement and arthroscopic surgeon, who along with Dr Amita Mahajan, senior paediatric oncologist, led the surgical team.

“The location of the tumour was such that it could be successfully operated,” said Dr Mahajan.

Starting from the fact that the then state health minister signed his permission letter to avail of the free treatment at Apollo while on a holiday, to an NGO funding the cost of the implant and medicines, the hospital staff donated blood when no one from the family came forward. “Our nurses donated four units, as his father was too weak. Three villagers who had come were scared,” said Dr Mahajan.

Before the five-hour-long surgery, Kumar was given three cycles of chemotherapy to shrink the tumour size. During the surgery, a 15cm long affected portion of the bone was cut near the knee. The knee joint and the lost portion of the bone was replaced using an implant.

Kumar can now lead a normal life. “I was scared of losing my leg, as it would have been difficult not just for me, but for my wife too. I now hope for a happy future for us,” he said.

In a similar case, doctors at Fortis Jessa Ram Hospital managed to restore the movement in the left knee of a 26-year-old man, 20 years after the knee was bent at 130 degrees due to an infection called septic arthritis.

A resident of Bahadurgarh in Haryana, Dharmendar Singh (26) had been walking on one leg since the age of six. “I consulted everywhere, including at Aiims, doctors said there’s no treatment possible,” said Rajendra Singh, his father.

The nerves and blood vessels that were in a crooked position, posed a major challenge during the surgery that took place last month. “There is a risk of losing the limb in cases like these, due to damage either to the nerves or the vessels.

That’s why most doctors refrain from treating these cases,” said Dr Gurdeep Singh Ratra, orthopaedics consultant at the hospital.