After spending five years in the AIIMS neurosurgery ward, 19-year-old Sachin Sharma returned home on January 30. In a first, Sharma, who is on life support, has been discharged with a portable ventilator — a device that has come as a ray of hope for families struggling to bear the cost of treatment.
After undergoing informal training for a month on how to use the device, the Sharma family got to take their son back home. In 2011, he fell in school and was subsequently diagnosed with cervical spine disease, requiring a ventilator for life. But instead of spending it on a hospital bed, he will be living at home.
“He left home at the age of 14. Since then, we have been living in the hospital ward. Our lives were incomplete without him and we are happy to live with him again. We requested doctors to release him at the earliest,” said his father Kishan Lal Sharma, who used to run a shop.
Regular visits to the hospital and the treatment cost affected his business and the shop was shut. “We do everything for our kids. He is back home, everything will be sorted now,” said Sharma.
A room has been set up for the teenager at the family’s two-storey home in Tri Nagar. Sachin is the first patient at the medical institute to use the portable ventilator at home. Designed like a bluetooth speaker, the ventilator does not require much space, unlike the traditional life-supporting machine. It automatically detects the breathing pattern and has a feature that alerts the attendant if anything is wrong.
The cost of the portable ventilator starts from Rs 45,000, and it is fixed with a tablet that displays the vitals. But AIIMS has given the family this machine free of cost. “These portable ventilators will also help hospitals address shortage of beds. A large number of patients on ventilators are occupying beds as their families cannot bear the expense of purchasing a traditional life-saving machine,” said Dr Deepak Aggarwal, professor of neurosciences, AIIMS, who developed the ventilator with a robotics scientist.
Sachin, meanwhile, is looking forward to his new life. “Sabke saath rehna hai,” he said.