Life or death choice for toddler

JayaprakashBut here’s a mother who might be forced to choose the latter knowing fully well what that  would mean for her 18-month-old son, Jayaprakash.

Dhanalakshmi, who works as a domestic help and her husband Padmanabha, a construction worker, have been unable to pay the Rs 1.25 lakh bill of the private hospital and the non payment might result in the child being taken off the ventilator.

The couple was spotted near the Vidhana Soudha on Thursday looking for any support that they could get to save their son’ life. The child, who was suffering from pneumonia, has been convalescing at the paediatric ICU of the St John’s Medical College Hospital for the past one month.

The child was referred to the hospital by a private nursing home in Padmanabhanagar, where he was initially taken to following a bout of pneumonia.

 “We did not know this was a private hospital. Moreover, they told us the child would become all right in three or four days. So we did not think twice before bringing him here,” Dhanalakshmi says.

 The decision has proved so costly for the family that they have now been thrown out of their one-room rented house in Padmanabhanagar and their 14-year-old daughter has been forced to drop out of school.

High bills

“After the first eight days, they removed our son from the ventilator saying he was better and gave us a bill of Rs 80,000. We then borrowed money from our landlord and managed to pay the bill thinking he would be discharged.  But, he developed complications again and had to be put back on the ventilator,” the parents say. The couple has been staying put in the corridors of the hospital next to the ICU.

The hospital authorities reportedly wanted the family to pay a part of the bill before they continued the treatment.

“But there is no way we can raise that much money. The hospital authorities asked us why we brought our son here if we did not have the money and threatened removing the child from the ventilator if we did not pay up,” a helpless Padmanabha said.

However, Medical Superintendent of the hospital Dr George D’Souza assured that the child would not be taken off the ventilator because of non payment of bills, but at the same time he said that the parents would have to find some way to raise money as ‘we can’t be paying all the bills endlessly.”

Interestingly the Hospital has a social work department which funds poor people for their treatment and has an annual outlay of Rs 7 to Rs 11 crore, but according to Dr D’Souza an attempt would be made to fund those who cannot pay, as long as the patient’s prognosis is encouraging. “Depending on the outcome, we might have to take a call. If we believe the outcome is not going to be good, then we might scale down the treatment.”

He continued, “Already the beds in our common ward are free, it is not possible to fund beyond a point.” With tears in her eyes, Dhanalakshmi says she is just tired and wants her child to be discharged, but the hospital bills stand in their way.

“My son looks at me with pleading eyes and folds his hands every time a doctor or nurse goes towards him. When I see he is conscious I just want to get him discharged and take him back to our hometown in Sulanayakanahalli in Pavagada. But we cannot even do that.”

The helpless parents fervently hope some philantrhopic citizens would come forward to help them.

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