The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Doctor breathes life into girl with blood
- Nadia showcases faces of healthcare — sincere and sham

Krishnagar (Nadia), Dec. 25: An unsung doctor in a village, nearly 130 km from Calcutta, stands out in the monotonous grim of the healthcare system, under fire for insensitive hospitals, shirking doctors, mercenary nurses and employees.

Parthasarathi Saha, a paediatrician at the Ranaghat Subdivisional Hospital, donated his own blood a fortnight ago to save four-year-old Shyamali Roy, who was suffering from a rare form of anaemia.

When most doctors in the state suffer from fear of angry patients and their relatives, Saha, 45, is the toast of Phulia village in Shantipur near here. Inspired by his efforts, residents of Phulia are now raising money to organise Shyamali’s treatment at NRS Medical College and Hospital in Calcutta.

Balaram and Kajali, both daily labourers, took their only child to the subdivisional hospital on the evening of December 12. Medical reports say she was virtually unconscious and very pale.

The child was diagnosed with anaemia two months ago with a haemoglobin count of 5.5 gm/decilitre. Ideally, it should have been around 10. Shyamali was hospitalised.

Within days, her haemoglobin level plummeted to 2. Saha suspected that she was suffering from aplastic anaemia, a condition where the human body does not produce adequate red blood cells. “When Shyamali came to me for the first time, two months ago, I thought she was suffering from the common anaemia caused by iron deficiency and malnutrition. But after a series of tests we began suspecting aplastic anaemia, which afflicts two to three persons in 100,000 patients,” said Saha.

The girl’s condition improved after 600 ml of blood was transfused. Without trying to experiment with the ordinary infrastructure available, Saha asked the parents to shift the child to NRS. “Shyamali needed specialised treatment and that was not possible in the sub-divisional hospital,” he said.

Balaram nodded when Saha suggested treatment in the city because he could not tell him that he neither had the money nor could he miss a day’s work. The couple together earned Rs 70 every working day.

“How could I take my child to Calcutta. After Shyamali fell ill, Kajali stopped going to the field. Our income was reduced by half,” said Balaram.

On December 12, Shyamali was again brought to the hospital. “Her face was as white as a blotting paper when she was brought in around 5 pm. I ran the tests and knew she needed blood immediately,” said Saha.

But there was no one around with AB positive blood. Samples of Balaram, Kajali and other relatives did not match hers. The family failed to locate a donor and so did the hospital when Saha stepped in with his own blood.

The parents were so moved by the sight of the doctor donating blood for their daughter, they decided to take her to Calcutta for treatment, come what may. “We are trying our best to raise funds for her treatment,” said Mrinal Ghosh, a Phulia resident.

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