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Stuck in Morigaon amid floods: How a boat, a video call helped connect Delhi doc to Assam patient

Bishwas was diagnosed with liver cirrhosis in February and required regular medical attention. As the nationwide lockdown was imposed, he was following directions given by doctors after his diagnosis.

Lalchand Bishwas was diagnosed with liver cirrhosis in February

A fishing boat, a mobile phone and a doctor sitting 2,000 km away — the three came to the rescue of Lalchand Bishwas (45) who suffers from a liver ailment and was stuck at his home in Assam’s Morigaon district amid floods.

Bishwas was diagnosed with liver cirrhosis in February and required regular medical attention. As the nationwide lockdown was imposed, he was following directions given by doctors after his diagnosis. In June, his condition started to worsen and he complained of breathlessness, drowsiness, and pain in the abdomen.

Bishwas lives with his family in Jengpori village and has no internet access. Earlier this month, his friend, Mofisur Rehman (35), a pharmacist, went to meet him and realised his condition was critical. Rehman then saw a prescription that would offer hope.

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“The prescription had contact details of a doctor. His condition was turning critical and medical facilities in the area were not operational because of the floods. Taking a chance, I dialled the doctor’s number and he responded. The doctor asked me to arrange a video call to understand his medical condition,” he said.

But that was easier said than done. There was no internet connectivity in the village and floods meant getting out was nearly impossible. Rehman and Bishwas’s family decided to take him on a boat and row till they found internet connectivity and made a call.

Dr Ushast Dhir, who works in the Department of Liver Transplantation and Surgical Gastroenterology at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, was on the line.

“I have been visiting Guwahati and conducting liver OPD every month for the past year. The last OPD was on February 29, where I met this patient. He was getting better but there could not be a follow-up due to the pandemic,” he said.

Rehman followed the instructions given by Dhir and examined his friend — all on the small boat. But for Dhir, another challenge was the language barrier and the help needed to administer injections and enema.

Off and on, the video call lasted around 6 hours. “I would explain the process to his friend, who would explain it to the patient’s wife. He did well. We wanted to save him from going into a coma… He was drowsy and feeling uncomfortable,” Dhir said.

Bishwas has been stabilised and will be called to Delhi for treatment once the situation is normal. “We have been in touch through telecounselling on a regular basis. The hospital has also arranged medicines for a month and sent them to his village,” D S Rana, chairperson (Board of Management), SGRH.

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