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Columns

Unknown hands unite to save a life

Gayathri Ananthakrishnan

When passion to save a person’s life blends with skill, commitment, hope and human touch, wonders are created. And the wonder assumes bigger dimensions when all this passion is to save the life of a person one has never met.

Nileesh (32), the agriculture graduate who had just starting his career and also just engaged, got this healing touch more than 2,000 km from his hometown Itarsi in Madhya Pradesh.

He had come with family to visit temples in Tamil Nadu. The fateful group tour started from Madurai in one of those tourist vans that throng temples down South. The group prayed at various temples and on the wee hours of August 3, the van had to stop due to a punctured tyre. This was just past the toll gate at Kayatharu, a small town 120 km from Tirunelveli.

But it was also destined to be the last stop for a few of the passengers in the van. A speeding lorry rammed the parked vehicle and with it went the dreams and lives of a few. Two women died on the spot, and the injured were rushed to Tirunelveli Medical College Hospital. An elderly woman and a 28-year-old man were pronounced brought dead to the hospital.

Young Nileesh was injured seriously and was in shock and his liver was totally shattered. Others sustained minor injuries and fractures. The family reeled under the tragedy as last rites happened in Kanyakumari for the elderly woman and other bodies were airlifted to their hometown. The family knew no one in Tamil Nadu and the local BJP office in Itarsi communicated with its cadre in Tirunelveli. There was none in the family to take any decision.

BJP Tirunelveli General Organisation Secretary TV Suresh, Consultant Anaesthetist Dr Bilal Ahmed, Tirunelveli Medical College Dean Dr Sithy Athiya Munavarah and doctors took over to turn family members of Nileesh to take right decisions at the right time.

Nileesh was operated upon immediately and given the best possible treatment. He was in shock with grade IV liver injury, haemodynamically unstable and his medical condition demanded advanced treatment and expertise.

The patient’s family in Madhya Pradesh requested that he be shifted to Global Hospital in Chennai. But that was 625 km away and a minimum 10-hour journey which with Nileesh’s medical condition was not possible. “We wanted to do what was best for the patient and give him the chance to live,” Dr Munavarah told The Covai Post. The patient’s condition was critical and time was ticking. On the request of the family of the patient who was on ventilator support, it was decided to shift him to Chennai.

Ganga Hospital in Coimbatore was contacted for it Ganga air ambulance service. A whole team swung into action. The plan was pick the patient from Tuticorin airport which was the nearest to the hospital. This meant flying from Coimbatore to Tuticorin via Madurai and then to Chennai via Trichy.

Within a few hours, permissions to land were received from the Tirunelveli Collector. The medical team worked at stabilising the patient’s condition. The Dean sought permissions from airport, police and various authorities and arranged for safe transfer to the Ganga Air Ambulance, a dedicated helicopter ambulance with full life support which can transfer even ventilated patients quickly. The team at Ganga worked out the best possible route for the patient, coordinated with the liver team in Global Hospital and Tirunelveli, sent their senior anaesthetist Dr Venketeswaran and paramedic to accompany the patient. All facilities for ICU support onboard were in place.

From Saturday 6 pm onwards through when the patient was airborne at 8:30 am on Sunday morning to when he was shifted to Global Hospital at noon on Sunday, there was just one thing that drove people -here was a sick person who needed help to live”. What happened that day was beyond medicine, beyond the call of duty, involving all.

There was an efficient and humane Tirunelveli Collector Sandeep Nanduri, who was extremely quick in responding to permissions sought – no bureaucratic hassle, the Tirunelveli Hospital which really proved what public-private partnership means, Dean Dr Munaivara who was personally involved, monitoring not just medical condition of the patient through the night but coordinating logistics and safe transfer of the patient, Dr Bilal and Dr Ganesh in Tirunelveli Medical College ICU who coordinated with the medical team at Ganga, the management of Ganga Hospital who decided that the life of the young man was worth more than writing off Rs 6 lakh bill, senior anaesthetist DrVenkateswaran who cancelled his Sunday family commitment to go along with the patient, air ambulance coordinators, Kalyanaraman and DrBalaji who worked through the night to make the transfer possible , pilots – Capt Poonam Bharadwaj and Capt.Ashok who made sure that the flight journey from takeoff to landing was smooth paramedic Sateesh who made sure the transfer was smooth, the team from Global Hospital who took over medical care of the patient from Chennai airport and BJP leader Suresh held fort till the family arrived in Chennai. None of them knew Nileesh or his family. All that they knew was – “He needed to live and that they were racing against time.”

Nileesh was airlifted successfully and is undergoing treatment in Chennai. His transfer would not have been possible to Chennai without the air ambulance as time and medical aid during transfer was very crucial. Inscrutable are the way things take a turn. Nileesh will live and maybe meet these unknown people to invite them for his wedding. This is all about restoring faith in humanity.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are the author’s own.

The author of the column is Gayathri Ananthakrishnan, Director, Ganga Air Ambulance Service

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