Fifty days after the Dongri building collapse, Alema Bano Idrisy, the last survivor to be pulled out from the debris, is awaiting plastic surgery for her hand. After heavy rain on Wednesday, a leaking roof of a fourth-floor operation theatre forced doctors to postpone the surgery in JJ hospital and reschedule it for Friday.
For 18 hours, Alema (28) had remained trapped under a collapsed staircase of the Kesarbai Mansion building, which collapsed on July 16. With one hand she held her younger son, Arbaaz (7), while the other grasped her elder son Shehzad (8). The three were rescued around 5 am the next day. By then, both her children had succumbed to asphyxiation and multiple injuries.
Alema was admitted to JJ Hospital with injuries to her head, leg and hand. Doctors had to operate on her hand and remove part of the flesh to control an infection. A nerve in her right leg is suspected to have been hit during the collapse, stopping sensations from the knee-down.
“We try to make her walk but she cannot feel anything in her leg,” said husband Rasheed Idrisy, who has left work to look after his wife. Idrisy, a tailor with a garment unit, was at work when the collapsed occurred.
A doctor from the plastic surgery department said their initial concern was that the crush injury might force them to amputate her right hand. “But we have managed to keep the infection under control, the infected flesh had to be removed,” a doctor said, adding that they were waiting for the infection to subside before operating on her. Alema now requires a surgery to transplant skin from her thigh to her hand to cover the wound.
On Wednesday, as heavy rains handicapped Mumbai, the hospital’s operation unit had multiple leakages that forced doctors to cancel all surgeries in the plastic surgery department. On Thursday, the department wrote to the hospital administration, asking them to alert the Public Works Department to urgently repair the roof. When contacted, hospital superintendent Dr Sanjay Surase said the operation theatre has no issues. “We were only waiting for her infection to subside. The surgery is scheduled for Friday,” he said.
Staff and doctors in the plastic surgery department, however, said the operation theatre remains shut. “We are not sure if we can operate on her tomorrow,” a doctor said, adding the hospital administration has been notified about the leaks.
Alema is also slated to undergo tests to check if nerve damage has led to a loss of sensation in her leg. “If the hand surgery is successful, she can return home after 10 days or so,” a doctor said.
On her cot, Alema said she has no home to return to. Her husband has been living in a workshop since the collapse. “We lost our children. There was no time to look for our belongings in the debris,” she said.