All of 21 years, Harpreet Singh is one among many patients who had received non-cosmetic deformative corrective surgery at the 16th Health camp organised by the National Burn Centre (NBC), Airoli. The two-day camp was organised on April 29 to April 30 and have helped treat 30 patients from across India.
A resident of Baliya district in Uttar Pradesh, Singh had set himself on fire in 2015. He has been taking treatment from Banaras Hindu University Hospital in Varanasi to Era Metkar College and Hospital in Lucknow. His family had to endure lot of struggled during these two years. The incident not only cost him financially, but also physically and mentally.
His father, Sardar Ranjeet Singh, who runs a small shop in Baliya, has been managing all the expenses with the help of people and NGOs.
“We have struggled a lot to get the right treatment. To get treated for severe burn injuries is very expensive, so far we have spent 8 lakhs,” said Ranjeet.
“I came to know about this camp through an NGO and the Internet. The good thing about NBC they have a skin bank so there is no need to take skin from other parts of body. More camps like this should be held and also awareness needs to be spread so that people who can’t afford treatment can make good use of such health camps,” he further added.
Harpreet was in class 10 when he took extreme step by blazing himself. Harpreet has two siblings, an elder sister and a younger brother.
Describing how Harpreet is undergoing mental trauma now and how he has been bravely fighting against all the odds, his father said, “He might take this step due to exam pressure and depression, but we have taken this situation as a big challenge. It’s very difficult to see your child going through physical pain and mental stress. I will put my all efforts to bring him back to normal life.”
Like Harpreet, 45-year-old Shalini Sakte, a Kandivali resident and 29 year old Ankita Chavan, a Kanakawali resident are the beneficiaries of this health camp. They both survived with 30 to 40 per cent burn injuries on their neck, back, chest and hands due to a stove blast at home.
“We have spent around 5 lakh after the fire accident in 2016. Initially we treated her at a private hospital, but their service is out of our reach. A burn patient already has to go through mental stress and the required expenses add to their suffering. But, due to this they start losing hope. In such a scenario free camps are actually beneficial in terms of expenses” said Kaushalya Sakte, daughter of Shalini.
Dr Sunil Keswani, Medical Director of NBC explains, “Many people get burnt every day and a number of them die every day in our country. Treatment of burns in a hospital is very costly which is beyond the reach of the underprivileged. Even if the victim’s life is saved, disfigurement or crippling disabilities follow in most cases making their life miserable. In many patients who suffer from deformities, it makes them jobless and even securing a day-to-day living becomes difficult. An inferiority complex is developed and such patients are traumatised due to horrifying burn memories.”
He said the main objective of the Operation Restore camp is to correct the functional deformities and help the economically-challenged burns survivors to lead a near normal life.
“It is for those who could not afford the corrective surgery. Therefore the need of such free surgeries,” added Keswani.