Mumbai: Teen cricketer ducks death, bounces back to normal life

Brijesh Sahani, 16, says he is aching to get back to playing cricket and is not afraid of practising at the same ground where the arrow had struck him; doctors credit his willpower for his miraculous recovery and say he will be discharged today

At 16, Brijesh Sahani has a way of keeping calm in the face of adversity that would be the envy of people four times his age.  For, just a little more than a fortnight after an arrow pierced his brain, the teenager is dismissing the incident as a ‘small’ one and says he can’t wait to return to the same cricket ground where disaster had struck him.

Probably aided by his winning disposition, Sahani has made what his doctors are calling a miraculous recovery and he will be discharged from Karuna Hospital in Borivli today. The doctors say he is medically fit and will be able to lead a normal life.

Tough times
mid-day had reported how, on January 16, Sahani was playing cricket on VPM Sports Club’s ground in Dahisar, where a group of archers were also practising. An arrow shot by one of them had gone through Sahani’s brain when he had leapt to reach the ball, and remained lodged there. The boy was immediately rushed to Karuna Hospital on a motorcycle and the doctors had sprung into action.

Brijesh Sahani
Long road: Brijesh Sahani playing in the hospital’s corridor yesterday

“When I received the call and the nurses told me what had happened, my first reaction was to hold my breath and inspect the exact nature of the injury. It was something that I had never encountered before, but we kept our nerve and started the procedure as soon as possible,” said Dr Kavita Bhandari, head of the hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU).

The doctors immediately cut the sides of the arrow since they needed to do a CT scan. The reports were shared with senior doctors and, within an hour, the arrow was surgically removed from Sahani’s head.

Doctors say the metal arrow, which had a circumference of 6.5mm and had penetrated the Broca’s area of the brain, passed through the fibres of the brain without damaging a single blood vessel or nerve that could have left Sahani with a defective sensory area for navigation, sense of touch and speech mechanism.

Infection fears
Five days after the operation, the biggest worry for the doctors remained the meningitis infection in the brain, which posed a serious threat to Sahani’s life. “We conducted around four to five CFTs (complement fixation tests) that kept giving us the positive sign of a drop in the rate of the infection. We then did an MRI and were assured that the boy is fully recovered from the injury and the infection,” said Dr Vinod Rambal, a neurosurgeon who has been treating Sahani.

Rambal added that the boy showed extreme courage and willpower, which helped him recover in such a short duration. “Even before the surgery, he was pointing at the arrow to tell me about the accident. A few days later, he was gesturing and responding to us. Today, after two weeks, he is playing in the hospital corridors with a soft ball and wants to get back to the ground as soon as possible,” added Rambal.

Bounce back
When mid-day spoke to Sahani, far from showing fear when he was asked about the incident, the teenager dismissed it as a small thing. “I have no qualms in going back to the same ground, I have been training there for quite some time now. In fact, I am eager to go out and play, I kept playing in the ICU as well, with a soft ball, and the hospital staffers were worried that I would break one of their instruments,” said Sahani, sporting a courageous smile.

His father, Parasnath, said he believes that bouncing back from injuries and getting back to the game is always important for a sportsperson. The family also seemed certain about wanting to restart Sahani’s education as soon as he got well.

MCA offers to help

The incident, and mid-day’s reports on it, have led to Sahani catching the eye of officials at the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA), which has expressed interest in taking him under its wing and making every resource necessary for his career available to him. P V Shetty, the joint secretary of MCA, has been visiting Sahani ever since he read about his enthusiasm in mid-day and has decided that he will assist the family, keeping their economic condition in mind.

MCA joint secretary PV Shetty
MCA joint secretary PV Shetty

“He is a school dropout and the son of a rickshaw driver, who pays around Rs 1,000 every month for his cricket coaching. We have decided that we will fund the boy’s coaching as well as ask him to continue with his education because it is not practical for any sports enthusiast to pursue the sport at the cost of education. We have plenty of clubs through which he can get trained and play at the professional zonal level as soon as he gets back on his feet,” says Shetty.

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