BENGALURU: "If someone asks me how close I am to her, I really don't know how to explain. She is my sister. We grew up together. Today, I feel miserable to see her in that state. Her young children are unable to get moral support. We are definitely short of funds and need help to ensure my sister's treatment happens without any glitch," grieves 38-year-old Manish Thapa, brother of Preeti Maheshwari, who is the first known Indian national afflicted with the coronavirus and battling for life.
Speaking to The New Indian Express, Manish Thapa, senior product manager at Bengaluru's Amazon, explained why he has started a page on two crowdfunding platforms in India to raise Rs 1 crore for his sister's medical expenses.
Preeti's husband Anshuman, a trader, has been living in China for past 17 years. With the cost of treatment mounting ever since Preeti was admitted on January 11, gathering money through crowdfunding platforms became the only option.
"Money woes aside, we are even struggling to fly to China. My maami (Preeti's mom) is the best moral support my sister's kids can get with their mother in pain. Unfortunately, her visa was denied twice before it came through on January 21. And now she can't fly to China as there is a travel ban," Manish explained.
"She was scheduled to fly today. We were happy thinking that my sister will get to see her mom and also Anshuman and the kids will have had some kind of support. It is a very unfortunate state," said Manish.
Maheshwari, a primary art school teacher at the International School of Science and Technology in Shenzen, was admitted to a private hospital with severe Type 1 respiratory failure, Multiple Organ Dysfunction Syndrome (MODS) and septic shock on January 11.
Manish said Preeti is undergoing treatment in the Critical Care Unit of Shekou Hospital in Shenzhen and continues to be on external respiratory support and ventilators. She is also undergoing dialysis and blood purification.
"It was even worse situation the whole of last week as there she was on Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO), which is a treatment that uses a pump to circulate blood through an artificial lung back into the bloodstream and it is like a medically induced coma," he said.
The only good news is that Preeti was out of the ECMO machine and responding. She was reportedly made to sit down in a wheelchair and communicated with her husband and her 14-year-old daughter Prashansa through gestures.
"We are happy Prashansa got to spend about five minutes with her mom. My sister could communicate with her through gestures. Her younger child is nine years old," Manish said.
Thanking all those who have been helping him on both ImpactGuru.com and Milaap (with Rs 1 crore set as the target on both platforms), Manish said he grew up in the house of Preeti's mother in Old Delhi as a kid. He said: "I know what condition my maami is in. Again, the doctors haven't given us an estimate of how much this treatment will cost. We were told initially to arrange about Rs 54 lakhs. This is going to be a long road for recovery and we need money. Hence, I have kept the amount to Rs 1 crore on the crowdfunding platforms."
When asked why he resorted to crowdfunding, he said primarily because "my maami never asked for this. But I know their situation. Our relatives too can't afford that much. Hence, in such a situation, I felt a crowdfunding platform is best where your relatives donate, share and talk about this with their friends and somehow arrange the money."
Now, Manish is receiving emails from several people whose relatives have battled illnesses that have led to Multiple Organ Dysfunction Syndrome (MODS) and septic shock and recovered. "It is a great moral support and positivity is all that we need right now," Manish said.