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Two-year wait for surgery

In 2017, around June or July, I came to Delhi from Bihar. Since then I have been living here. My daughter Jyoti, now 12-year-old, is suffering from a spinal deformity for five years now. She is not able to walk, neither sit for long. She cannot even attend school, as we fear she might fall and injure herself.

I went to AIIMS and was given a date a month later for a doctor’s appointment. When we met the doctor, he did all the check-ups, X-rays and so on. Then we were given a date of November 3, 2018. The government also helped me by arranging a fund of Rs 5,43,095. The day I got the fund for her treatment, I was really happy. I went running to the doctor and said, “Finally, I have got the money for the operation.”

The doctor said that if you want to operate her in the general ward then it will take one or two years more. So, he suggested that I should do it in the private ward. I told him that it is not possible for me to afford treatment in a private ward. I was not able to understand much, and so he sent me to the private ward and told me to get a date for the operation.

But I was not able to raise the required amount that operation in a private ward of AIIMS entails. Then they shifted the date of operation to February 13, 2019. So, that is when I went on to seek help from others and someone sent me to lawyer Ashok Aggarwal. He helped me and further approached some people from Delhi to donate money.

People were ready to give money after Mr Aggarwal carried a request for donation in the newspaper. The financial matter was under control. So, on February 6 this year, I went to the hospital to inform that the arrangement of the money has been done. I wanted to confirm whether the operation can now be done without any hindrance.

 

But now they are suddenly saying that, “Sorry, the private ward was given to you by mistake. You should be in the general ward.” I told them that from the first day I have been saying that I cannot afford a private ward. Had I been given a place in the general ward, then by now my daughter’s operation would have been completed.

I only earn Rs 7,000 per month. From where will I afford such high expenses for the treatment? They told me that they can only give me a place in the general ward now – which has a waiting list of 305 patients! That too, one patient gets operated every eight days. I again went to Mr Aggarwal and told him everything. I showed him the documents and have been hoping he can help me get out of this helpless situation I am in. I have no idea whether the operation will even take place or not. I am losing all hope. Only God can help me.

Arjun Thakur works as a sweeper in Delhi

— As told to Shruti Das

FACT CHECK

  • 12-year-old Jyoti is suffering from severe spinal deformity
  • Advocate Ashok Agarwal has filed writ petition in DHC seeking directions against AIIMS to grant her admission in private ward on the scheduled dated (February 13) and proceed for operation as scheduled by AIIMS
  • DHC (Justice Vibhu Bakhru) has told AIIMS that patient Jyoti needs urgent treatment and asked Advocate Krishna appearing for AIIMS to take instructions by February 13 on how to get this patient treated as early as possible

‘Have faith in court’

The system which AIIMS has is discriminatory. It is a government hospital, and there they have a private ward and a general ward. In Arjun Thakur’s case, they were saying that because he belongs to the general category, he cannot opt for the former.

But in private ward, dates are allotted faster. In general, God knows how many patients die in the process of waiting for their turn. This system is totally unconstitutional. Here, he even collected the required treatment fee. The court also noted this point and said that if someone is critical and requires to be treated urgently, then why make that person wait?

The right to health clearly states that it is the obligation of the State to preserve the life of the people. We can say they have failed to preserve this right. Jyoti has been suffering for five years. She is in extreme pain and needs to be operated urgently. Moreover, even the money has come. Then why delay?

Either they (AIIMS) themselves should operate, and if not, should at least arrange somewhere else. Anyhow, they should get it done. After the issue got publicity, they probably got angry and now are again refusing to operate in the private one. They are telling him to go the general one – which has a huge
waiting list!

Moreover, Jyoti’s operation is a critical one. It will take around 12 hours. Thus, it requires a specialised and experienced doctor. This delay also violates her disability rights. She cannot even attend school, and this violates her right to education as well. By not operating on her, you are violating all her rights. What will happen if the state itself behaves in such a way?

The court has said that she should be operated soon and they are serious about it. Now, AIIMS lawyer will get instructions from the Medical Director and then a decision will be reached. We are hopeful that the court will help us.

Ashok Aggarwal is a Delhi-based lawyer

 

 — As told to Shruti Das