A 22-year-old Nepali woman, who was abandoned close to the summit of Mt Everest by her own expedition members but saved miraculously by other climbers, has received a further setback with doctors having to severe part of her thumb.
Usha Bista, the first woman from Nepal's southern plains to have attempted conquering the highest mountain in the world, fell severely ill while she was only a couple of hundred metres below the 8,848-metre summit due to lack of oxygen and exhaustion.
Her last memories were of watching her team leader reaching the peak while she fell unconscious due to cerebral oedema, swelling of the brain due to lack of oxygen, a condition that is fatal unless treated immediately.
Usha, who belongs to the plains community and not the Sherpa clan, people of Tibetan stock who can endure severe cold and have acquired a formidable reputation as high altitude porters and guides, was attempting the summit as part of a Nepali expedition that aimed to plant the flags of Nepal's ruling eight parties on the peak.
However, she says her team leader harassed her, her Sherpa guide refused to go to the summit with her and the other members refused to give her food or water when she was dying of thirst.
She was found alone and unconscious in Everest's "Death Zone" by a group of western climbers and their Sherpas, who brought her down to safety by a herculean rescue operation.
Now the 22-year-old, who wants to have a go at the unconquered mountain once again in autumn, finds herself facing another setback.
"Usha had severe frost bite on her fingers and toes," her elder brother Bimal Bista told IANS. "On Friday, doctors had to remove part of her right thumb."
Ishwor Pradhan, the orthopaedic surgeon at Kathmandu's B&B Hospital, who performed the operation, is also urging that two of her right toes be removed.
"The doctor says the two toes have started decaying and should be removed at the earliest to stop further damage," Bimal Bista said. "We are all very upset. Usha is putting on a brave face but we have found her weeping."
Usha, daughter of an illiterate villager from Kailali, one of Nepal's remotest and most underdeveloped districts, had made a stupendous effort to raise funds for her May expedition that turned disastrous.
She said she had been collecting money from door to door in her Khairiphanta village, where people working as domestic helps and farm hands donated Nepali Rs 50-100 to help her raise part of the Rs 1 million she needed.