Carlton fire survivor still left in the lurch

Carlton fire survivor still left in the lurch

For Maneesha Ramakrishnan, 43, even speaking is a daily struggle. Once an employee at an investment firm in the City, and known to have had a good voice and excellent communication skills, her speech is now reduced to a faint murmur. 

Maneesha is one of the survivors of the infamous fire tragedy that struck Carlton Towers on the City’s Old Airport Road in February 2010. A tracheotomy tube has been implanted in Maneesha’s larynx as her vocal chords and respiratory pipe had become tangled due to inhalation of toxic gases during the fire that broke out at Carlton Towers, which housed her office. 

She now breathes through the tube and has to close its obturator every time she has to speak. Repeated tracheotomies have not been able to restore her voice and she has even lost her sense of smell permanently.

“It’s just a year-and-a-half ago that I actually settled down and came to terms with my condition—both physical and psychological. I have undergone seven surgeries and repeatedly contracted infections, which reduced my weight by around 20 kg. My kidneys were infected, followed by an episode of pneumonia and bronchitis,” said Maneesha, who has received a little help from government.

After recovering from the frequent infections and medical complications, Maneesha did try to work in a multinational company, but was not able to continue due to the air-conditioned environment, which was not conducive for her tube-facilitated breathing. 
Though she received a considerable amount as settlement from her previous employer, which has since shifted to Mumbai, it was not enough to meet her mounting medical expenses.  

Maneesha is a single parent of two sons, one of whom has recently started working. She says sustaining the family with no earnings and such health has
 been a huge struggle. 

Her initial medical bills were footed by the state government. 

In September 2013, Maneesha had to undergo fibre-optic laryngoscopy and tracheotomy to reduce fibrosis and create space for her to breath. She raised funds for the Rs 40,000 surgery through friends. 

She said ever since she regained the ability to travel on her own, she has been in touch with state health department officials to get her share of the “relief fund for accident victims”. 

“I get a reply from health officials saying that the government fund is to help the poor who cannot afford medical treatment. Looking at me, all dressed up fine; they think that I’m doing well. Health officials have lost my documents and are delaying in responding to my requests,” she added.

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