Good Samaritans on social media help deliver life-saving medicine to Bengaluru, Chennai

Two days ago, Debasis Nayak in Chennai was struggling to find the drug Sabril (Vigabatrin), prescribed for epilepsy, for his friend’s daughter.
Sabril (Vigabatrin), prescribed for epilepsy. (Photo | Martin Louis/EPS)
Sabril (Vigabatrin), prescribed for epilepsy. (Photo | Martin Louis/EPS)

CHENNAI: Amid a lockdown and with social distancing becoming the norm, chances of finding a good Samaritan are higher on social media than on the streets. In an interesting chain of events,

Twitter helped a man from Chennai procure a life-saving drug for the two-year-old daughter of his friend*, from Bengaluru. The donor was Shankar Raman, father of girl using the same medicine.

Two days ago, Debasis Nayak in Chennai was struggling to find the drug Sabril (Vigabatrin), prescribed for epilepsy, for his friend’s daughter.

An imported medicine, it has no alternative available in India. Meanwhile, the child’s seizures were increasing and doctors warned it could prove fatal.

That was when Debasis decided to approach a senior IPS officer from Odisha, Arun Bothra, who had previously helped transport camel milk from Rajasthan to a child in Mumbai with severe food allergies.

Debasis said he had only a faint hope when he contacted the IPS officer.

“I sent a Twitter message to him on Sunday and he immediately replied saying we would have to first find out where the medicine was available. However, the drug was available nowhere in India. So we decided to draft a tweet and post it through the IPS officer’s Twitter handle to see if anybody had it.”

The response was overwhelming, said Arun Bothra.

“People started sharing the tweet and we found three responses to be helpful.”

“One person from Nagercoil, one from Bhopal and another from Bangalore said they had these medicines. The tweet from Bengaluru particularly caught my attention because the man, Shankar Raman, said he was using the same medicine for his daughter and was ready to share it,” said Arun Bothra

Meanwhile, another man from Bengaluru requested for the same medicine. Now, they had the medicines but the next hurdle was transporting it amid the lockdown.

Just as discussions were going on in this regard, DCP from Bengaluru, Dr Bheemashankar Guled, who was also following the thread on Twitter, immediately volunteered to transport the medicine.

Shankar Raman who donated the medicine told Express that police personnel arrived at his home at about 1:30 am in the early hours of Sunday and collected the medicine.

They delivered 20 tablets immediately to the Bengaluru family and delivered another 20 to Debasis in Chennai by Monday morning.

“How the police used social media to connect with two unknown people is amazing. They were very swift in collection and delivery of the medicine,” said Shankar.

Meanwhile, the police are transporting another set of same medicine from Nagercoil to Chennai via a truck.   

Railways transport drug

To make sure that a cancer patient got the life-saving drug, the Southern Railway delivered a package for the relative of one Vadivelu of Chidambaram. This was done through the Southern Railway’s SETU-SR initiative

*The daughter and father from Chennai wanted to stay anonymous.

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The New Indian Express