Twenty five days after she was welcomed into the city with a brutal acid attack on the platform at Bandra terminus, Preethi Rathi’s condition continues to be critical at Bombay Hospital. Her family, which has been trying to come to terms with the sudden tragic setback, is now facing yet another hurdle. In the last two days, the family has had to cough up Rs 36,000 to buy medicines and blood for transfusion from outside the hospital.
Preethi’s father Amar Singh Rathi said that though the railways are footing her hospital bills, they have to meet other expenses. “For the past two days, we have been told by doctors to buy medicines and arrange for the blood bags from outside, which has put quite a strain on us financially. We have already spent around Rs 36,000 in a span of two days,” said Amar Singh.
Preethi is undergoing treatment in the hospital’s ICU since May 20, when she was shifted from Masina hospital in Byculla. The young woman had arrived in the city with her family on May 2 to work as a nurse in Ashvini Hospital, when a masked man flung acid on her face, which entered her mouth, severely damaging her wind and food pipes. Her lungs collapsed on May 22, after which she was put on machine support to maintain oxygen levels in her body.
Preethi’s relatives now plan to approach hospital authorities and ask them for help in paying for the external hospital bills for blood and platelet transfusions as well as other medicines. “We don’t have to pay for the medicines provided by the hospital, but the ones we have to buy from chemist shops outside the hospital are quite expensive, along with the blood bags. We will request the doctors in the hospital to help us out as we have been borrowing money from our relatives in the last two days,” said Roshini, Preethi’s mother.
Still in shock
Preethi’s mother, who arrived at the city two weeks ago, is still reeling from the sudden reversal. “This was the first time someone from our family had got a job in Mumbai. We were so excited that our Preethi was going to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse in a big city – and look at were she has ended up,” she rued. “This city has been so unlucky for our family. I wish she had never come here. Though our accommodation has been arranged for, footing her medical bills is turning out to be another challenge,” said the distraught mother, fighting back tears.
“A minor surgery was performed on Preethi to temporarily close the hole in her windpipe, for which we used fibrin glue. However, we’re unsure how long the glue will keep the hole in her windpipe closed, which was caused by the acid that entered her mouth,” said Dr Ashok Gupta, plastic surgeon at Bombay hospital. “Her kidney’s condition has started deteriorating and though we plan to use artificial skin grafts on her burns, we won’t be able to go ahead with it unless her condition stabilises,” he added. Preethi’s platelet count is low and she is suffering from septicemia due to high internal damage caused by the acid.
Dr GK Singh, divisional medical officer of Western Railway, said in cases where the hospital has been asking the patient’s relatives to buy medicines and blood bags from outside, they will be unable to directly compensate the amount to the family.
“The railways have committed to foot the acid attack victim’s hospital bills. However, we sanction funds for the victim’s treatment after the hospital forwards the bills to us. In this case, it is complicated for us as the hospital has asked the relatives to purchase these items from outside,” said Dr Singh. “We sent our GRP officials to look into the matter and have asked the family to take this issue up with the hospital administration,” he added.
Speaking to MiD DAY, Dr Sagar Sakle, spokesperson for Bombay Hospital at Marine Lines, said, “The family can get these outside bills certified by our doctors to prove that they were indeed for the patient. After that, they can approach the finance department of the hospital to get this issue solved.”