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Homecoming on one leg, crutches

Madhumita Halder stepped out of her Behala home on February 26 to bring her teenaged daughter home from school and she returned a month later on Wednesday without her left leg.

The 40-year-old homemaker hobbled out of Calcutta Medical College and Hospital on crutches in the morning and left for her BL Shah Road home in a taxi along with her husband and two relatives.

Madhumita refused a wheelchair, offered by a doctor, and instead took the pair of aluminium crutches that husband Sunil held out for her. “I was waiting for this day for the past week… to walk back home. So I refused the wheelchair. I am trying to adjust to my new life,” she told Metro while waiting on her hospital bed (number 16 in the female orthopaedic ward) for the discharge papers.

She took tentative but determined steps with the crutches under her arms, almost tripping at the 10-inch gap between the floor and the elevator. Her husband supported her while she climbed down the three steps of the exit gate. She took her time to get into a taxi and soon headed home.

Madhumita lost her leg to a careless bus driver who accelerated before she could get down from the vehicle that she and daughter Reema had taken from her Madhyamik centre. She fell and her left leg came under the rear wheels of the bus at Mahabirtala near New Alipore, a 15-minute walk from their BL Shah Road home.

Police took her to MR Bangur Hospital, where doctors bandaged her wound and advised that she be taken to a medical college.

At SSKM Hospital, she was left unattended for over an hour before a doctor cut open the bandage, inspected the wound and bandaged it again. The Halders were told that no bed was available.

Madhumita was then taken to Calcutta Medical College and Hospital, where she lay unattended and writhing in pain for hours. She was finally wheeled into the operating theatre on the morning of February 27, almost 12 hours after the accident.

Doctors said the surgery initially seemed successful but the leg had to be amputated two weeks later as an infection set in and started to spread.

Tears rolled down their cheeks as mother and daughter were united on Wednesday afternoon.

Her voice choking with emotion, Madhumita blamed the heartless medical system. “I feel my leg could have been saved had the doctors treated me immediately. I kept on crying in pain and my daughter and husband were running after the doctors but none attended to me,” she said.

She said she had shuddered at the thought of losing her leg but signed her truce with life after doctors showed her the wound and explained that it could turn fatal.

“I smiled in front of my husband and daughter but wept silently in the night. Then, I resolved to carry on with my life. I would try to get back to normal life as early as possible. The incident has made me stronger, mentally,” she said holding her daughter’s hands.

A voluntary organisation has offered to help Madhumita with a functional artificial limb, once her wound is completely healed.

“We read about the family’s plight and got in touch with them. A German multinational manufacturer of artificial limbs has taken the measurements of her leg. Whenever the doctors give the green signal, the limb would be attached,” said an official of Murary Mohan and Sulekha Seal Memorial Trust that has also donated her crutches.

Doctors said she would have to dress the wound every alternate day and get a check-up done after one-and-a-half months. “The healing should take three more months. She needs to take rest,” said Mukul Bhattacharya, the CMCH orthopaedic surgeon who treated her.