Government officials and a lawmaker in Kerala have promised help after a mother of five staged a protest by the side of a busy road in Kochi pledging to sell her organs including her heart in exchange for money to fund medical treatment of her children.
Santhi (44), along with her five children including four sons and a daughter, moved out of her rented house on Sunday night, pitching a tarpaulin tent on one side of the busy Container Road near Mulavukad to begin her protest.
A placard outside the tent announced that Santhi’s organs, including her heart, are available for sale so as to pool money to fund the medical treatment of her children and clear her mounting debt. The six-member family had spent the previous night hunkering under the tent even as it rained profusely.
As her protest attracted media attention, officials of the local Varapuzha panchayat and the police arrived at the spot to shift the family to a temporary rehabilitation facility. Initially, Santhi resisted as she believed that promises would not be met but later gave in reluctantly.
“My eldest son, who is the sole breadwinner of the family, was involved in an accident in July last year. He was waiting at a traffic signal when a bike crashed into him, splitting his head into two and injuring his leg. I incurred a lot of debt to fund his treatment. He’s still not completely fit. My daughter needs surgeries for her head and eyes due to an accident she suffered in 2013,” Shanthi told indianexpress.com.
She continued, “My second son has been mentally ill since his birth. He had swelling inside his stomach for which he was operated at the age of 7. He’s now 23, unable to work. Only two of my sons are healthy. One dropped out of studies to do part-time work and the other is in class XI.”
Santhi, who hails from Malappuram district, also said that she was abandoned by her husband when she was pregnant with her youngest child. She said she had initially worked as a driver, but gave up her job to take care of her children.
Expenses of the medical treatment of her eldest son and her daughter pushed the family toward mounting debt, she claimed. They don’t have a house or a piece of property of their own.
The 44-year-old said state health minister KK Shailaja phoned her, promising to do everything possible to take care of her children’s treatment. Congress MLA from Paravur VD Satheeshan, who has helped the family in the past and is acquainted with their problems also said he would look into the matter.
On Monday afternoon, the family was brought back to their rented accommodation with locals promising to manage their rent for the time being.