Nearly every day, for 18 months, a helpless Jayprakash Sawant, 60, watched his son, Parag, lie motionless on a hospital bed.
“We didn’t know if Parag would come out of coma,” said Sawant. Parag was in the first class compartment of the Virar-bound local train in which a bomb exploded on July 11, 2006.
“Yet, we never thought of asking doctors to end Parag’s life,” said Sawant, who takes turns with his wife, Madhuri, to be by Parag’s bedside at Hinduja Hospital, Mahim, every day.
The Sawants are keenly awaiting today’s Supreme Court verdict on a euthanasia plea made on behalf of Aruna Shanbaug, a nurse who has been lying in a vegetative state at KEM Hospital for 37 years after she was sodomised by a sweeper.
“Even if the person is in a vegetative state, euthanasia is not an option. If her [Aruna’s] family had been around, things might have been different,” Sawant said.
After three brain surgeries, Parag, now 31, is bedridden but conscious and can, sometimes, move his hand. On Saturday, when his mother asked him if he wanted to go home, Parag repeated her words in slightly garbled speech with a smile on his face.
“We are more hopeful about recovery in traumatic brain injury patients,” said Dr Charulata Sankhla, neurophysician at PD Hinduja Hospital, who has been treating Parag for the last two years.
Shanbaug’s case is also relevant to Amit Singh’s family. Singh, 24, too slipped into a coma after the July 11, 2006, serial train blasts and has been in the High Dependency Unit of Jaslok Hospital, Peddar Road, since.
His mother, Meena, clings to a slim hope - the occasional movement of Amit’s eyelids. She plugs earphones in his ears to stream music every time she takes him down the hospital corridor in a wheelchair.
“We are caring for him like a two-month-old baby,” said Meena, who boards a local train from Virar every morning to come to the hospital.
“Our life has come to a standstill,” said Amit’s father, Dinesh, 54, a railway employee.
“Hopelessness does set but he is our child and we cannot afford to lose heart,” he adds. Dinesh believes that God has chosen to keep his son alive. “There may be a karmic reason behind his condition. Aruna [too] is not alive without a reason,” Dinesh said.
He added that he wants to take Amit to the US for treatment. “Can the government do nothing for our child?” he asked.