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Mumbai man walks after six years

For 32-year-old Santosh Gupta, life turned into a nightmare six years ago when he was left bedridden. Sitting on a chair became a herculean task, let alone walking. The computer programmer was forced to quit his job and take up tuitions at home to earn for his family after he was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis that afflicts one in 1,000 people.


Santosh Gupta after the surgery. Pic/Anuradha Varanasi

Gupta, a Goregaon resident, who initially approached a civic hospital in the western suburbs was informed that it would take around R three lakh to undergo a total hip replacement in 2007 which he was unable to afford. He was then finally referred to civic-run KEM Hospital in Parel by a relative where his disorder was treated.

“The patient was suffering from ankylosing spondylitis which means there was zero movement at his hips. His spine and hip bones had got fused together which eventually led to a significant disability,” said Dr Pradeep Bhosale, head of the orthopaedics department at the hospital.

This long-term disease, which is hereditary, mostly affects young male adults. It renders them disabled. The only treatment is a complete hip replacement. “I was in extreme pain as I wasn’t even able to sit properly because my thighs became slightly crooked. I was unable to even move them. I could stand with the help of crutches for a short period of time but leaving the house and even sitting on a chair was impossible,” said Gupta. He then underwent a hip replacement in the civic-run hospital. Two implants were inserted at his hips where the bones were previously fused together.

Almost two weeks after the second phase of his surgery was completed, Gupta is now responding positively to his physiotherapy. “Though this is a relatively common disease, there isn’t much awareness and the tragedy is that it afflicts young men in their most productive years,” said Dr Bhosale. He further added that in the last 26 years, he has treated over 160 patients for ankylosing spondylitis. 

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