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Abandoned by parents,she found a new home; now time to move on

It is time to bid adieu to her new family but five-year-old Shakuntala Jadhav now throws temper tantrums at her “home” for two months — the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) of Sassoon Hospital.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune |
February 5, 2009 1:28:51 am

It is time to bid adieu to her new family but five-year-old Shakuntala Jadhav now throws temper tantrums at her “home” for two months — the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) of Sassoon Hospital. Barely two days after being admitted to the hospital for treatment of a severe form of tetanus on December 10 ,Shakuntala’s parents had abandoned her.

It took a battery of doctors and round-the-clock treatment at the PICU to help her recover from tetanus. “She was writhing uncontrollably with severe muscle spasms,had difficulty in opening her mouth and the disease led to an extensive arching of her back,” says Dr Sandhya Khadse,head of the department of paediatrics at Sassoon General Hospital.

After extensive treatment,Shakuntala has recovered but has no home to go to. “She was brought by her parents,migrant labourers from Raigad,” says Dr Santosh Joshi,a lecturer at the department. Led by Dr Sandeep Patil,chief resident doctor,a team of doctors and nurses managed to check her distress and control her spasms.

“Two days after her admission,the parents were reported missing. We contacted the police but there has been no contact from paren1ts or relatives,” says Khadse. “We had informed the parents of the high risk Shakuntala faced due to tetanus. The five-year-old has not been immunised against tetanus or got any of the vaccines as per the one-year immunisation protocol since birth,” says Khadse.

Nearly 70,000 cases of tetanus are reported every year in the country and the disease can be fatal. Every month,two-three children suffering from tetanus are admitted to Sassoon Hospital. Even as Shakuntala had responded to the treatment,it was the care and support of staff members that helped her recover. “How can one leave a five-year-old alone in the PICU as she struggles helplessly with spasms and has to be administered saline and other medication. We ensured that a nurse or attendant and even a doctor was by her bedside,” says Khadse.

“Jiska koi nahi uska Sassoon doctors hain,” say the attendants who have got emotionally attached to Shakuntala. The five-year-old will now be handed over to the police and the court will decide where she will stay.

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