SINCE 2012, this couple from Nalanda, Bihar, has travelled thousands of kilometres, visiting the country’s top government and private hospitals. Suraj Kumar Singh suffers from blocked arteries in his legs. The 38-year-old grocery shop owner and his wife have travelled to several states and spent lakhs of rupees trying out various treatments, but no doctor has been able to help them. Last month, with their savings all gone, they decided to give PGI a try.
“First, we visited a neurosurgeon in a private hospital at Kankar Bagh in Patna. He gave a belt and started providing medicines. For 15 days, there was no improvement,” says Suraj. He has visited nine hospitals in different states all over the country.
Suraj’s wife Rosy has been a constant companion on these medical journeys. She remembers the names of the hospitals. “In 2013, we visited Patna Medical College, Ashok Rajpath. We also visited Marut Nandan, a private hospital, and Satyam Heart Centre in Patna,” she says.
In 2014, they went to Jammu to try out an ayurvedic doctor. “We were there for six months, but it didn’t help at all,” says Suraj.
Suraj’s story started in December 2012, with a little back pain. Today, he finds it difficult to walk.
“My veins are blocked and there is no blood circulation to the feet,” says Suraj, who has closed down his shop back in Nalanda because he does not know when he will be able to return. The couple has left their two children with Rosy’s mother.
When Suraj’s condition took a turn for the worse in April 2015, doctors at several Patna hospitals told them that they should go to either PGI or AIIMS, Delhi.
But the couple decided instead to head south, first to Bengaluru and then to Vellore, where Suraj was admitted to Christian Medical College for some time.
“The injection there cost us Rs 10,000. They said that the surgery would cost around Rs 6-7 lakh,” says Rosy. “We had to look for another option.”
They went to AIIMS, Delhi, first. Suraj said the doctors there declined to do a CT-Angio test. “The doctors said there were some risks. We made rounds of the hospital for around 22 days and they referred us from one doctor to another,” says Suraj. “My blood was taken for research, but not for my treatment.”
At PGI, their last hope, the couple believes his health has started improving. “We came here on October 16. We went to new OPD. They performed each and every test. They gave us the date of November 12 for surgery,” says Rosy, adding that they do not have Rs 2 lakh required for it.
Suraj and Rosy know that the road ahead is hard, even if he recovers. Apart from closing down the shop, they have sold all of Rosy’s jewellery. “We have already spent Rs 4.5 lakh up to AIIMS,” says Rosy. “We don’t have any money left now.”
Rosy’s eyes well up as she shows her children’s pictures on her phone. “Everything I had, I have sacrificed now,” she says.