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Twitter triumph in tragedy

New Delhi, Oct. 7: Social media has a big heart.

Rudra Shekhar Dey would have celebrated his 25th birthday tomorrow, but the Jamshedpur youth suffering from liver failure died today at a Gurgaon hospital surrounded by Twitter and Facebook friends — many he never knew in his lifetime — who raised money for his expensive treatment.

“I am devastated to lose my son. At the same time, I am deeply grateful to all his Internet friends who campaigned to raise money for his treatment at Medanta in Gurgaon,” bereaved father Nilotpal Dey, a retired Tata Steel employee, said today.

Rudra, a computer hardware entrepreneur, was diagnosed with jaundice in April and recovered in May, but in September, doctors at Tata Main Hospital, Jamshedpur, diagnosed him with acute hepatitis B. Rudra’s parents were told his liver was in “very bad shape”. He would need a liver transplant, preferably in Delhi.

Knowing Rudra’s family would not have been able to pay for a liver transplant, which in India costs anywhere between Rs 10 lakh and Rs 25 lakh, his friends started a campaign on Facebook and Twitter.

As word spread, former Jamshedpurean Meenakshi Singh, now the country manager of a Noida-based IT company, spearheaded an extensive Twitter campaign asking members of the microblogging site to contribute cash.

“I started appealing for donations on Twitter on September 24. Within a day, we managed to pool in over Rs 5 lakh. We deposited the sum in the bank account of Rudra’s father. We also got in touch with Medanta hospital and flew him here by an air ambulance,” said Singh.

Rudra initially showed signs of improvement.

“We tweeted about his prognosis and we kept pitching in money for the liver transplant that would have cost around Rs 25 lakh,” Singh said, adding some Rs 15 lakh had been donated by the hospital towards the cause.

But the hospital couldn’t go through with the transplant as Rudra suddenly developed pneumonia. He stopped breathing this morning.

“It is sad that he did not survive despite all our efforts and prayers,” Singh said.

Delhi banker Nitin Kashyap, who donated money for Rudra’s treatment, was with the heartbroken family at the Lodhi Road crematorium. “I have no Jamshedpur connection. I didn’t know Rudra. But I saw the Twitter appeal, I felt a life could be saved. Perhaps this is the best face of social media. A virtual society can come together to lend a helping hand,” he said.

Rudra’s father is grateful. “These Netizens rallied around my son and me. Beyond a point, we don’t have control over destiny. But what these people have done for us is amazing,” he said after cremating his son.


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