IT WAS the nature versus human grit as NDRF and local volunteers helped doctors cross a flooded river, so that they could attend a delivery on Sunday. While doctors managed to cross Sukh-Bhadar river and ensured safe delivery of a baby girl, a young volunteer who was swept away by the river, was found dead on Tuesday. Ranjan Khavdu, a homemaker went into labour at 7 am on Sunday, seven hours after Sukh-Bhadar river swelled and floodwaters entered Nana Matra village following torrential rain in Vinchhiya and Chotila talukas.
Her husband Ramesh, a construction labourer, contacted Bharti Danidhariya, a local Asha worker and midwife. Danidhariya, who reached Rajan’s home with her daughter daughter Gayatri, also an Asha worker. Danidhariya dialed emergency service 108 and requested for an ambulance to shift Ranjan to nearby hospital. “I was told that an ambulance will not be able to reach the village,” she says.
As approach roads to Nana Matra were flooded, authorities directed Dr Raja Khambhla, medical officer at the primary health centre in Chhasiya village of Vinchhiya taluka, to rush to the village. Dr Khambhla and his assistant Dr Ghanshyam Raghvani reached Gangajal village on the southern bank of Sukh-Bhadar at 1 pm. A team of NDRF (National Disaster Response Force) had also rushed to Gangajal. To help the doctors across Sukh-Bhadar and reach Nana Matra, NDRF personnel tried to tie a rope across the river, but, the rope proved short and a human chain was formed to complete it.
Meanwhile, in consultation with Dr Khambhla and a private gynecologist from Jasdan town of Rajkot district, Danidhariya helped Ranjan deliver a baby girl at around 2 pm. “But, there was problem with placenta and the mother didn’t stop bleeding,” says the midwife. Eventually, Dr Khambhla and Dr Raghvani also started wading through the waters of Sukh-Bhadar. “NDRF personnel told me they could not guarantee my safety. But, I risked my life,” says Dr Khambhla.
The medical officer reported to Rajkot collector Vikrant Pandey that there was risk to the mother. “There was fear that she might suffer postpartum haemorrhage,” says Dr Khambhla. Soon, the gynaecologist from Jasdan too arrived at Gangajal. A few local volunteers said they would help the gynecologist cross the river. “We formed a human chain and the doctor was on her way. But, Ranu, one of the volunteers, lost his balance. Chapraj Khachar tried to save Ranu, but he started drowning. While Ranu managed to swim to safety, Chapraj was trapped in the swirling waters. NDRF personnel and many of us dived to save him, but could not find him,” says Diu Khachar, a resident of Gangajal who was among the volunteers.
After Chapraj, 21, a resident of nearby Mota Matra village went missing, Vinchhiya mamlatdar Manji Khimsuriya who was present on the spot ordered to abort the plan to help the gynaecologist across the river. As Ranjan’s condition did not show improvement, Dr Khambhla informed the collector that she will have to be shifted to a hospital. Eventually, after consulting CM Vijay Rupani, the collector sought help of the IAF. In response, the IAF flew a Chetak helicopter to Nana Matra and airlifted Ranjan and her newborn to referral hospital in Jasdan.
But, the drama did not end. “There was another high-risk pregnancy in the village. Vaishali Dervaliya was expected to deliver a baby. Since, the village was cut off by road, we suggested she should also be airlifted and shifted to a hospital,” Dr Khambhla says.
Therefore, the IAF chopper flew back to Nana Matra, airlifted Vaishali and dropped her across the river where an ambulance was waiting. “She was taken to primary health centre in Vinchhiya where doctors opined it could be some time before delivery,” says Vaishali’s mother-in-law Madhu.
While there was joy in Ranjan’s family after birth of her third daughter, Chapraj’s family feared the worst. On Tuesday morning, Chapraj’s body was trapped in a check dam across the Sukh-Bhadar river.