Volume 6 - Issue 11
NOVEMBER - 2008
A Walking Wonder
A crowd of almost 300 men, women and children of Mohan Nagar village on the outskirts of Kolkata, India, had gathered around the yellow taxi, on a humid spring evening to witness a miracle.
Jehangir Molla was going to walk.
The multitude stared incredulously; they looked at each other with raised eyebrows. When it finally dawned on them that Jehangir could actually walk, they broke into an instantaneous cheer. Amidst the shouting and rejoicing Jehangir casually walked home, where his wife, mother and sister were eagerly waiting for him. The mass followed, keenly watching his steps.
"The Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences (SSSIHMS), Prashantigram gave me a new life," Jehangir said, while on a revisit for a check up to the Orthopaedics Department of the hospital after a year.
A mason by profession, Jehangir had been paralysed waist down and confined to the bed with a fractured backbone after a fall from the second floor of a building under renovation. He was then taken to some of the well known hospitals of Kolkata; they either refused to operate, or demanded an exorbitant sum for the surgery, yet did not promise complete recovery. He was then brought to SSSIHMS, Prashantigram on a stretcher. Seven months later, he ambled home. "Had it not been for the doctors at this hospital, I would not have been able to walk again," he said, quite moved by the care he has received.
The residents of Mohan Nagar had received the message that Jehangir had started walking again and they reacted with disbelief. They could never imagine that he could actually be on his toes again. They knew how Jehangir had remained confined to his bed after that perilous fall. In fact, his situation was so bad that lying on the bed, he could not even turn on his side, let alone sit up. He experienced excruciating pain in the back, and his legs had gone numb. He was forced to eat, drink, speak and even attend to nature’s calls lying down.
All this, however, changed within a span of seven months!
According to the Head of Department, Orthopaedics, SSSIHMS, Prashantigram, Dr Kailash Rao, Jehangir's case is unique. It is a rare situation of complete recovery. According to Dr V.R. Vasuki, one of the surgeons who had operated upon him, his revival was no less than a miracle.
A Near-Fatal Fall; All Hopes Lost
Jehangir remembers August 6, 2007 well. It was the day, which had threatened to snatch his life away from him. "I started from my home as usual at 6:30 AM. Being a mason, my job mainly involved laying bricks and plastering walls. The contractor, under whom I was working, had taken up the job of renovating an old school building near Diamond Harbour, Kolkata. I had my breakfast and cycled to the place by 8:30 AM," he said.
He was soon on the second storey of the school building supporting himself on the bamboo scaffolding. A swift swipe into the cement and sand mixture with the brick trowel, a splat on the wall and the concrete spread evenly. Next was the delicate job of evening out the cement with a plastering trowel. It was clockwork - swipe, splat and spread. Again, swipe, splat, spread. At around 10:00 AM Jehangir moved to a different part of the wall. "I put my right leg on a section of the bamboo; it felt as strong as any other. I resumed my job.”
But suddenly, Jehangir's swift movements were interrupted when he heard a crack under his feet. An experienced hand, he knew what that meant. He looked down in horror, his face drenched in perspiration. People below looked tiny. Jehangir's mind raced. A grab at the vertical bamboo could save him. In those moments of tense anticipation, the plastering trowel tumbled out his hand and he heard a distant clang as it hit the ground.
As he stood still and shocked, Jehangir's world collapsed under his feet. "As I fell, my head reeled and then everything went black," he said, recollecting that disastrous moment.
There was a big thud, which brought Jehangir's fellow masons and school children rushing to the spot. They saw him flat on his back, unable to move. "My lower back killed me with pain," he said. Jehangir's backbone had been fractured; he was paralysed waist down.
"The doctors in Kolkata's hospitals, which I visited, told me it was a difficult case. If an operation was to be performed, it would cost Rs. 6 lakh (US $ 15,000), they said. With my income of Rs. 3,000 (US $ 25) a month, I could never pay such an exorbitant amount. They also told me the operation would be risky. Other hospitals flatly refused to operate," he added. Shifted from one stretcher to another, transferred from one vehicle to another, moving from one hospital to another, without hope, devoid of any assurance, Jehangir and his family of five saw his life slipping away, moment by moment.
"A fellow villager then told me about the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Prashantigram. He had come here to receive treatment for a urological ailment. He suggested that I should also visit SSSIHMS where cases such as mine were also treated," Jehangir said continuing his story.
"I came to know from that person that the treatment was free. I could not believe it! When I came here, I found out that I need not spend any money at all on anything! Be it the X-ray, my diet and medicines, or anything else; everything was free," he said, naturally excited.
“I mistook it for a temple, it is indeed one” - Jehangir
On September 11, 2007, about a month after the accident, Jehangir, along with his brother came to SSSIHMS, Prashantigram, on a stretcher. He and his brother, Zakir Hussain Molla boarded the East Coast Express from Howrah. They had to change trains at Vijaywada. From Vijaywada, they took the Prashanti Express, which dropped them at Sri Sathya Sai Prashanti Nilayam station. All this while Jehangir lay on a wooden frame, calling his brother to bring the pot, whenever he wanted to answer nature's calls.
All the while he experienced excruciating pain in the back with both his legs being absolutely numb. The moment the doctors at the Department of Orthopaedics saw Jehangir's condition, they immediately admitted him. It was then decided to operate upon him on October 5, 2007. "I was elated when the doctors here said they would operate upon me," Jehangir said, a smile bursting on his face.
"Five people came from Puttaparthi town to donate blood for me. I did not know them; they did not know me either. I asked my brother to provide food for them and pay for their conveyance. But the donors refused to take anything from me. They said, ‘It is our duty’. I was completely humbled," he said, his eyes now watery.
"This place is just not a hospital, this is a temple. The people here - the doctors, nurses and the staff are so honest. They speak softly and take perfect care of the patients. The hospital is kept spick and span, the floor is always shining, the staffs are so disciplined… Actually, I can go on and on praising the hospital. I was here for seven months, so I could see everything from close quarters," he added.
“In fact, when I came here first, I mistook it for a temple, and it is indeed a temple!” he continued. “When it was time for me to go back, I felt like staying back here,” Jehangir added. One could see the genuineness of his feelings on his face.
A Shattered Spine
According to Dr Rao who attended on him, Jehangir had suffered from a burst fracture in the L1 vertebrae, the first vertebrae in the lumbar region of the backbone, which meant that Jehangir's L1 vertebrate had all but disintegrated. The shattered vertebrate had injured the spinal cord. The injury to the spinal cord had resulted in paraplegia.
A 10-hour operation was performed on him. In the surgery, the broken vertebrate was removed and in its place, metal rods and screws were inserted. This made sure that the spinal cord was not put under any pressure.
Jehangir's perfect recovery surprised everybody. On December 12, 2007, he was able to get up from bed for the first time after the fall. He then went through regular physiotherapy for three months. On March 10, 2008, to everybody's surprise, he just walked out of the cab and went home.
“I have never seen or read anything such as this anywhere!” – Dr. Vasuki
"Before leaving for my hometown, I bent down to touch Dr Vasuki's feet,” Jehangir recollected, “but the doctor asked me to thank Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. He told me that it was due to Sai Baba that I had been cured and was able to walk again. He also said that he and the other staff were only instruments. It was His grace, which helped in my complete recovery."
According to Dr. Vasuki, Jehangir's case was one of its kind, in which the recovery had been total. "Let me put it this way, I have never seen or read anything such as this anywhere! One will not find such a case even in the medical journals anywhere in the world. His case could be one in 100,000 or even greater," he added. Normally in such cases, after surgery, there is a partial recovery, but Jehangir recovered completely. He does not even limp when he walks, the doctor added.
"All I can say is in Bhagavan's temple of healing, miracles happen time and again, and Jehangir's case is one such. It gives me immense pleasure to treat a patient and give him a new life. This feeling can only be experienced. We doctors are ever grateful to Bhagavan Baba for having selected us as His tools to deliver His message effectively. What more can I say, as a doctor, we have the immense fortune of being here and doing His work, “Dr Vasuki concluded.
Bhagavan Baba says the power of pure love is immeasurable. True, one can never comprehend this incredible ocean of pure love, but to have a glimpse of one drop, one visit to this ‘Temple of Healing’, the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, is enough!
- Heart2Heart Team
Vol 6 Issue 11 - NOVEMBER 2008
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