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Leg crushed first, now spirit Threat to life from infection

- Woman hurt in bus accident to undergo amputation today

The homemaker who was kept waiting more than seven hours for medical treatment after a bus crushed her leg last month needs to have the damaged limb amputated, say doctors.

Madhumita Halder, 40, learnt last Friday that surgery on her left leg had failed to repair the damage caused by the accident and allegedly exacerbated by the delay in treatment.

She will undergo amputation from above her left knee on Tuesday morning, officials at Calcutta Medical College and Hospital said.

The surgeon treating Madhumita broke the news to her and her husband after opening the bandage around the wound on Friday morning.

Husband Sunil said his wife and daughter Reema were shattered by the verdict. “My wife has gone silent and refuses to meet anyone,” he told Metro.

Sunil had been forced to “turn my face away” when the bandage was opened. “The doctor said the portion below the knee was in such bad shape that if not amputated immediately, the infection would spread and my wife might even die,” he said.

Madhumita was escorting daughter Reema home from her Madhyamik examination centre on February 26 when the accident occurred at Mahabirtala near New Alipore, a 15-minute walk from their BL Shah Road home. Reema had safely alighted from the bus but the driver didn’t wait for her mother to get off. The homemaker fell off the footboard and the bus went over her left leg.

Police had taken Madhumita to MR Bangur Hospital, about a kilometre from the site, within 10 minutes of the accident.

The doctors on duty at MR Bangur bandaged her wound and advised that she be taken to SSKM Hospital, Calcutta Medical College and Hospital or Calcutta National Medical College and Hospital.

The family took her to SSKM, where she lay unattended for over an hour before a doctor cut open the bandage, inspected the wound and bandaged it again, saying there wasn’t a bed vacant in the ward to admit her.

Calcutta Medical College and Hospital was the next destination, where a doctor initially asked the Halders to come back the next morning. It was only after the family protested that she was admitted and wheeled into the operating theatre, more than seven hours after the accident.

More time was lost when doctors found out before the surgery that her haemoglobin count was too low for her to be given anaesthesia. By the time the surgery started, more than 12 hours had passed since the accident.

Madhumita spent the first two days on the floor and was allotted a bed in the female orthopaedic ward only after Metro highlighted her plight.

Doctors had recently performed a Doppler test on Madhumita’s left leg to evaluate blood flow and found it adequate. But a medical board still decided to amputate the leg to prevent septicaemia. “As in most road accidents, impurities entered and infected the wound,” orthopaedic surgeon Mukul Bhattacharya said.

Reconstruction and plastic surgeons said it could not be said for certain if Madhumita’s leg could have been saved with prompt intervention. “In the first hospital, the wound was washed with saline. But more thorough cleaning is required along with removal of dead skin, though that can be done only with the patient under anaesthesia,” said reconstruction surgeon Anupam Golash.

Madhumita’s husband, who earns around Rs 4,500 a month as a masseur, said he had spent close to Rs 1 lakh on her treatment. “I had to sell off two gold earrings. I don’t know how much more the treatment is going to cost us after the amputation.”