Gift of money and life for newborn twins

Doc's post online raises Rs 11 lakh

By Rith Basu in Calcutta
  • Published 3.09.18
  •  
The twins at Fortis Hospital, off the Bypass, where they underwent treatment after premature birth

Calcutta: A doctor's appeal online helped raise Rs 11 lakh for the treatment of premature twins born to a couple from Dhanbad at a city hospital.

The twins, a boy and a girl with a birth weight of 1kg and 900 gram, respectively, had to remain in hospital for two-and-a-half months, during which they were on ventilation for 25 days between them.

The parents of the twins born in the 27th week were struggling to meet the medical expenses. When the bill crossed Rs 10 lakh on Day 14, mother Shahin Akhtar, a homemaker, and father Shahid Akhktar, who earns Rs 20,000 a month working at a pharmaceutical company in Delhi, told the neonatologist they had run out of money.

"My babies had just come out of ventilation and were getting better when we ran out of funds. The doctors told us that the twins would need many more days of hospitalisation as they needed to be under close observation. We knew the only option for us was to move the children to a government set-up but we feared that the shifting could cause their condition to deteriorate again," Shahin told Metro.

That is when doctor Sumita Saha, consultant neonatologist at Fortis Hospital, stepped in. She shared the couple's plight on an online fund-raising platform, Milaap. Soon, contributions were pouring from as far as the US.

The bill for the twins came to around Rs 20 lakh. The couple took loans from friends and relatives and managed to put together Rs 9 lakh for their treatment and another Rs 3 lakh for Shahin as she had developed post-operative complications.

The remaining Rs 11 lakh came from crowdfunding. The contributor count clocked 800.

Saha said she had posted the story of the helpless parents along with pictures of the twins and a cost declaration from the hospital more in hope than belief that it would work.

"It was heartening to see how a genuinely needy family trying their best for their ailing newborns received help from around the world," Saha said.

"All the donations from foreign countries came in dollars. We had to keep the babies in hospital for an extra day because it took time to convert the dollars into rupees."

The babies, healthy and with their weight doubled, are now back in Dhanbad after being discharged from the Bypass hospital on Saturday.