This is the heart-warming story of a poor farmer who sold his land for expensive treatment in his hometown only to realise that he needed much more than for a cure, which SSSIHMS gave him free of cost!
The river Hooghly flows majestically in his hometown, revered and worshipped as a tributary of the mighty Ganges by devout Hindus in Bengal. For Nimai, living in his own small home in Hooghly with his wife and two young school-going daughters, and working in his farm everyday was a fulfilling life experience. His means were meagre but his was a happy family.
One day his world changed. While he was working in the farm he collapsed, and was unconscious. He was immediately rushed to a hospital nearby, where he was admitted and given treatment. But he remained unconscious for a week and had to be put in emergency and critical care. That one week cost him, a man with small means, a whopping One Lakh Seventy Thousand Rupees (US$2,600). Soon, from there he was referred to another hospital, a larger one with modern medical facilities for ‘better treatment of his condition’ as the doctors put it.
It was at this point he decided to sell the only asset he had – his valuable land – to pay for his medical treatment and the debtors. After all he was the only earning member, with two young daughters still in school. He had hopes and dreams for them which he wanted to fulfil. He sold his land with a heavy heart.
As is the practice in most hospitals, once again he had to go through all the tests (whether they were relevant or required), and they demanded a lot of money for treatment which he simply did not have and could not pay. A kind soul advised him to proceed to a leading medical college and hospital in Kolkata, where despite all the previous reports and tests, he was advised to get an MRI scan done. It would cost him another Rs.15,000 (US$230) which he had to cough up.
Following the MRI scan he was prescribed medicines for ‘heart ailment’ and was told that he would have to undergo a ‘surgery’ where a device would be placed to make his heart beat faster. The pacemaker implant would cost him another 2.5 lakh rupees (US$3,900). Where would he go? His land was gone and he was still not cured!
At the time of despair hope too springs alongside. When some of his friends came to know of his problem, they suggested that he should visit Bangalore and go to Sathya Sai Hospital. He knew of Bangalore, a distant city in South India, but Sathya Sai Hospital he was unfamiliar with. Nevertheless, because he had no other option, he decided to travel to Bangalore.
The family came here and got an initial check-up done, and for the first time they were happy to even get the tests done for the tests were free! He did not have to pay any money! He could not believe it and willingly submitted himself to further clinical investigations. But his joy was short lived as the doctors gave him medication and asked to come back after six months. But somewhere he felt happy that after all he did not have to spend to do all this. He was hopeful that in six months there would be good tidings for him.
NS returned on March 20, got admitted on the same day and the surgery (ICD implantation, done with the support of Boston Scientific USA) was successful.
Now after his surgery, he is a happy man, he is glad he came here for treatment, and he says SSSIHMS is a one-of–its-kind hospital doing yeoman service for the helpless, poor and needy like him. “I have never seen such a place before, and never will there be a place like this on earth…” he says tears of gratitude welling up in his eyes.
(As told to Sri. Venkatraman, a Sevadal Volunteer and written by Mrs. Sheela Sai Prasad)
Note to the Reader:
In some small set of people, the heart suddenly decides to beat between 150 to 250 times per minute (normal is around 70 times per minute) and it needs to be shocked to revert to normal. ICD is a battery operated device put inside the body and connected to the heart and gives a shock whenever this happens saving the life of the patient.