It was a hectic day, same as all the OPD days. Me and Nilesh, my colleague in KEM, we were reporting bone marrow slides of the day. Working and wailing was our routine as we were the only residents and workload was tremendous. But that day it was different. It was midnight but we were silently going through one after the other patients slides…only sound was the sound of incessant Mumbai rain. The turmoil inside our mind was far worse than the rain outside. Since joining as junior residents (JR), we had two AML inductions going on in ward…and unfortunately today only we lost both of them to infection. Only doctor’s know how it feels when you do everything for patient, running around for 3-4 months for everything, it all is going well and one bad infection and you loose. In India being doctor means you have to do everything right from nursing to social worker, counseling to physiotherapy and nutrition also…..every role.
I was about to finish my work. Last few bone marrow slides were there on tray. I wanted to avoid that reporting. She was a sweet girl who recently celebrated her 15th birthday, Radhabai, from a small village, seen by me in OPD today morning. We were suspecting leukaemia and that is why marrow was done. Being junior residents and recent happenings, I was afraid of seeing blasts in her marrow. Her brother, Hari, in his mid-twenties was waiting outside the reporting room at this hour also. He was the one who brought her to Mumbai for treatment. I just scanned the slide…it was “leukemia” beyond doubt. Considering untimely rains and their social-financial state, I thought he is just waiting to listen the diagnosis and go back home. But to my surprise, he looked determined to do whatever it takes to save his little sister.
We admitted her next day and treatment started. Mom came in to take care of her and Hari was roaming everywhere in Mumbai to seek financial help. Things turned in positive way. She finished first cycle and was in complete remission after cycle 1. It’s rightly said “when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
This was her last cycle and she was neutropenic now. One more week and after that we will be discharging her as “leukemia free”. We all were very excited. The brother, who was there with her since last 6 months for everything, was looking happy. I told him ” she needs platelets,Hari”. Her platelet count was 3000, as expected after chemotherapy and KEM blood bank was not having platelets of her blood group for that night. His funds were already at the bottom. One platelet bag costs 900rs, due to scarcity and I asked for four. He was thinking. He quickly did some phone calls and come back to me “Sir I will go to get platelets” after 3 hours came his call that he is unable to find platelets anywhere in Mumbai. I told him you keep searching in other blood banks while me and Nilesh started calling one by one to all the blood banks. No success. He came back at 1 am. Without platelets. Next day morning in rounds Radhabai mentioned that she can’t see from her left eye. We were terrified. Immediately ophthalmic consultation was asked. And our fear came true “she had a bad retinal bleed”. Eventually her blood counts recovered and we discharged her, but the joy and excitement was not the same.
She is more than 5 years from her treatment now and continues to be in remission but without her left eye vision…..
Recently many of us became blood Donors on Facebook. But this will not be enough to save eyes of another Radhabai. This is good for social awareness but we need to go to blood bank and camps to donate. And believe me you will feel like superhero.
“Kar ke dekho, accha lagta hai”
– Dr. Manoj Toshniwal
Plz come forward and donate blood.
Thank you for reading
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P.S. this has been written with permission from Hari,Radhabai and Nilesh