Twelve-year-old Naveen Kumar has become something of a hero in doctor circles at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital. Displaying courage and calm beyond his years, the seventh standard student has recovered from an accident that crushed both his legs last November. While doctors had to immediately amputate one leg to save his life, they managed to save the other after four tricky operations. A stoic and cooperative patient all through the ordeal, Naveen’s determination to get better did not go unnoticed— his nightmare of not being able to walk again ended on Tuesday, when a city NGO presented him with a brand new prosthetic limb.
In November 2012 Naveen, the son of a security guard, was brought to the RGGGH with both limbs mangled and bleeding profusely. He was one of the victims of a freak accident, when a crane rammed into the wall of his school in Royapettah, bringing concrete and debris crashing down on Naveen and another woman who died instantly.
“The child had terrible vascular injuries. After amputating his left leg mid-thigh, we realised that there was constant internal bleeding in the right limb as well. He required a bypass surgery, during which a 15 cm vein was grafted into his leg. He underwent two plastic surgeries for wound-cover,” said Dr V Kanagasabai, dean, Madras Medical College and RGGGH.
“We were shattered when doctors told us they had to amputate his leg. Naveen is such a sprightly, active boy who loves running errands for me. But when I remember that the same accident killed someone I am glad my son is here with me, legs or no legs,” says Naveen’s mother Lakshmi, who had to break the news to her son. “He cried a bit; but took it bravely. He had set his mind on getting better and going back to school,” she says.
On hearing Naveen’s story through the media Dr Suneel, founder of an NGO called Ungalakhaga Charitable Trust, came forward to fit the boy with a sophisticated lightweight prosthetic limb imported from Germany, believed to cost around ` 90,000. Going a step further, Dr Suneel has promised to replace the prosthesis every couple of years as the child grows; and has offered to sponsor Naveen’s education as well.
“It will take a month or so of constant practice and rehabilitation, and Naveen will have to be very brave until he is able to walk pain free with the prosthesis. But we are confident that he will be back in school this June,” says Dr Kanagasabai. Lauding Dr Suneel’s kind gesture, Dr Kanagasabai called for more private organisations and NGOs to come forward and help them with patient treatment and rehabilitation, in order to make the best of the RGGGH’s efforts to provide high quality healthcare, free of cost.