A year after he lost his legs in an accident, 15-year-old Akash Mehra, a former budding hockey player who had played at national-level school and sub-junior championships, is set to regain his independence, as he has received artificial limbs which may help him walk again.
Last year on October 23, Akash boarded a train, but realising that it was the wrong one, he tried to get off and slipped, and the train ran over his legs, which later had to be amputated. Since then, he has been fully dependent on his mother, a domestic help who is the sole bread-earner for the family.
"Since then, doctors have operated on him 16 times to save his life. It was a very tough time for the family, but thanks to the almighty, my son is alive and ready to do wonders, albeit in a somewhat different style," said Geeta Rani, his mother, a resident of Basti Guzan.
After the accident, Geeta lost her income as she had to spend time taking care of his disabled son. Her husband Mohan Lal as his father has been mentally disabled for the past 17 years and is dependent on her.
"Several NGOs have extended help for his treatment, and Rs 10 lakh have been spent so far. A US-based donor sent a desktop computer for Akash, and he is quickly learning to use it," she added.
Akash, who is now on a wheelchair, is trying to adjust to the prosthetic limbs, which the family arranged from a renowned hospital in Ludhiana.
"The process of rehabilitation is going on. Due to contraction of legs after surgery, the German knee-cap they had fitted needed to be changed after some time. This was done twice. Hopefully, I will soon be able to start helping my mother handle family affairs," said Akash.
Akash and his brother Azad were training at Jarkharh Hockey Academy, one of the major donors.
"Jarkharh Hockey Academy, Surjit Hockey Academy, Cantonment MLA and former Indian hockey captain Pargat Singh contributed generously to arrange funds for treatment and roped in several other donors. We cannot specify how much they contributed, for they deposited money directly into Geeta Rani's bank account, but we know it was sufficient to help the boy stand on his feet. This year, Akash will appear in Class 9 examination from Jarkharh Academy," said former district sports officer BS Randhawa.
Contact Geeta Rani at 92172-28756
Total number of surgeries 16
Expenditure: Rs 7 lakh
Cost of artificial limbs Rs 3.5 lakh
Jarkhar Hockey Academy: Rs 2.9 lakh
Surjit Hockey Academy: Rs 1.25 lakh
Deepinder Singh: Rs 1.5 lakh