Manoj Kumar has every reason to be frustrated with life. Soon after this 41-year-old poor saree vendor from Daudpur in Bihar was diagnosed with Hepatitis C, it was discovered that his 8-year-old son Aman Raj too was afflicted by the disease.
The father and son are now in New Delhi for treatment at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). That is almost the last hope for his family of five, who have had to sell their house and property to pay the medical bills. “I now stay in a kaccha makaan. I already have a huge burden of debt on me and have paid the a private hospital over Rs 3 lakh,” says Manoj.
He first went to the doctor in April 2013 to report a severe pain in the abdomen and was diagnosed with ‘Hepatitis C’, a debilitating liver disorder that needs urgent medical attention. As if Hepatitis C was not bad enough, Manoj, the only earning member of his family, is also suffering from diabetes, thyroid, blood pressure and piles. But the treatment was beyond what Manoj could afford. Just the injections cost around Rs 11,000 each and are to be taken at regular intervals. In October 2013, his son too was found suffering from Hepatitis C.
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Unable to pay for the expensive treatment, he wrote to the Bihar Health Department for help. Even as he was forced to stop working, there was no aid from the state. This is when he wrote to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and then met him at a ‘Janta Darbar’ where he was assured help for a treatment of his son and himself.
On the recommendation of the Chief Minister, Manoj and son shifted to the PMCH in Patna. “But the hospital authority informed me that they do not have adequate requirements for the treatment,” says Manoj. He decided to shift to a private hospital, but got out when he got to know that all he would get was Rs 20,000 for treatment that would cost Rs 50,000.
Manoj and Aman are now trying their luck at AIIMS. Though helpless, he still manages a smile for anyone who greets him. “Look how healthy I once was. This expensive disease has already killed the respect my family lived with,” says Manoj, showing a ‘healthy’ photo of himself in a ration card. He has not been in good terms with relatives after he chose to sell his house.
“I took money from people in the village. Soon this will be exhausted and I will have no other alternative,” says Manoj, who feeds the family at temples in the city. “But I have to do whatever I can to give my child another chance to live,” says Manoj trying hard to hide his tears.