SEVEN-YEAR-OLD Neha Rajput’s saga can be an apt example of how not just remote areas in the State, but even the State capital itself, is ill-equipped to handle rare medical cases.
From her village Khurai, Neha went to Sagar, from Sagar she was sent to Jhansi, then to Bhopal, from where she was referred to AIIMS at New Delhi. But, ultimately her life was saved by a, Indore doctor, reinstating the City’s credentials as the medical capital of Madhya Pradesh.
Since past four years, Neha had severe pain in the right thigh. As it later turned out, she had a 25*4 cm (approx) tumour, which had grown inside the spinal chord (D 10 to L 5) leading to expansion of bone and also severely compressing the nerves below.
No treatment was available at her small village Khurai in Sagar district. Her father, Jagpal Singh Rajput, a farmer, took the child to Sagar where she was falsely diagnosed as having a bone-related problem. Few days on, when the medicines did not show any effect, but worse her leg started shrinking, Jagpal Singh took Neha to Jhansi on a friend’s suggestion. To his horror, Neha was then diagnosed as having polio. However, a stool test proved otherwise.
The trouble for the family with two more children did not stop there. After yet another suggestion from a relative, Jagpal Singh took Neha, who had by now quit school after Class 1, to Bhopal’s Hamidia Hospital. There after a false start (she was wrongly treated for GV Syndrome), her trouble was finally detected correctly.
But doctors at the hospital in the State capital did not want to touch a sensitive case when the neurological tests showed how big the tumour was and its precarious position. So she was referred to AIIMS, New Delhi. By this time, Neha was barely able to stand on her own.
Jagpal Singh and his wife Saroj, a BPL family, both declined to go to Delhi for obvious financial reasons. But by this time, they had managed to reach the Chief Minister’s office after an acquaintance put in a word and promised an aid of Rs 75,000 from the Chief Minister’s Medical Relief Fund. The government officials then intervened and suggested that they go to Indore to get the girl operated upon at a private hospital.
Finally, Neha was brought to CHL Apollo Hospital in Indore a month ago where the MRI scan revealed the exact problem. Generally, such operations are done with a procedure called laminoctomy wherein the spinal chord bone is cut out to remove the tumour. But considering Neha’s age, approximately 10 cm small portion of bone was cut as if opening a door, so that after removal of tumour it could be slid back to its position and left to fuse naturally.
This procedure, called open door laminoplasty, would ensure that Neha’s spine would pose no problems in future owing to this opening. The operation continued for 12 hours.
The girl now recuperating would soon be discharged and would need three months’ rest before she can lead a normal life. The team of doctors who gave her the boon of life included neurosurgeon Dr Subodh Jain, neuro-physician Dr Abhay Bhagwat, and anaesthesia expert Dr K G Vijayan among others.
Having undergone the trauma of running from pillar to post and finally finding solace at Indore, Jagpal Singh has taken a vow. “I am now going to help all those who need proper information. People keep running from here to there not knowing where to take a patient in case of any problem. Awareness is the key. That is what I have vowed to do for my whole life. It’s a little something I can do to return what I received by way of my daughter’s life.”