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Boy dies at rally on child disorders

Hyderabad, Aug. 7: Little Shoban did not live to see the end of the day. The holes in his heart killed him at the very rally called to highlight the plight of children with genetic disorders like him.

The 11-year-old, one of 3,000 little hearts who came with their parents, collapsed even as organisers of the rally demanded a cost-effective package from the government for these children from financially weak families.

Shoban, the son of a farm labourer in Karimnagar, and the others were brought here for the conclave by the organisation Madiga Porata Samiti. Soon after he died, politics took over as party leaders marched to a nearby Ambedkar statue and stalled traffic for two hours to draw the attention of the authorities.

His body was later taken to the NIMS for post mortem.

“It is tragic that Shoban died when we were trying to put pressure on the government to provide a package for such patients,” BJP leader G. Kisan Reddy said.

Shoban’s father Ramanna told a local news channel the boy had not eaten anything since last night. “He drank some milk but vomited it out. He just collapsed at the meeting and was dead within minutes.”

Lakshmakka, Shoban’s mother, was still numb with shock. “I don’t know what sin I had committed. He could not sleep, or eat or play properly. There was so much pain in his eyes that I could hardly console him,” she wept.

The boy’s death has shaken the state administration, which for over two years did not bother about the thousands of applications for help from the chief minister’s fund. “There are nearly 7,000 applications pending,” said a CMO official.

Chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy, who was in Delhi, has directed that all children with holes in their hearts now in Hyderabad be admitted to various government and private hospitals immediately.

Rajasekhar Reddy said he would take up the matter as soon as he returns on Monday. “It is a humanitarian cause and action will be taken immediately,” he added. He has also announced an ex gratia of Rs 50,000 for Shoban’s family, an official release said.

The plight of the unfortunate children has also caught the attention of President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. A few months ago, he sent a personal donation to the Little Hearts Foundation set up by the CARE hospital in Hyderabad.

The foundation championed by cardiac surgeon Gopichand Mannam has already collected Rs 48 lakh as donation. Seven of the 17 children admitted in CARE hospital have been operated on.

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