Six years ago, Neeta Sawant* was like any other youngster. She had just graduated from Cummins College, Pune, and was working in Ahmedabad with an architecture firm. Outside office, she devoted time to dance, music and hockey.
Neeta’s life took a painful turn in August 2011, when she was diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB). She is now battling Extremely Drug-Resistant TB (XXDR-TB) and is scheduled to have a life-saving surgery to have her left lung will be removed on May 29 at Hinduja Hospital, Mumbai. The surgery will be performed by a thoracic surgeon at the hospital.
The Lokhande’s, who have spent around Rs40 lakh for Neeta’s treatment so far, have exhausted all their savings. Several TB survivors have rallied around the family and have started a crowd-funding initiative for the surgery, which will cost Rs4 lakh.
Three years into the treatment, Neeta was administered drugs such as Kanamycin and Capreomycin, which led to permanent hearing loss. “My child was emotionally broken during this phase of her life. Within a month-and-half, we decided to get her a cochlear implant that cost us around Rs25 lakh,” said Radhika, her mother.
Speaking to My Medial Mantra over a messaging service, Neeta said, “Crowd funding is essential for me as the cost involved is huge and we will not be able to raise the money.” Despite poor health, Neeta freelances with an architecture firm in Pune.
Radhika said surgery is the only hope for her daughter. “This surgery will remove her diseased lung, and Neeta will be able to lead a normal life,” she said, adding, “Her condition worsened due to wrong treatments and she developed resistance to several drugs. At one point, she weighed 28 kilos.”
“Neeta was recently administered a course of last-resort drugs such as Bedaquiline and Delamanid and her condition has improved. But her left lung is fully damaged,” said Radhika, who works as administrative head at DY Patil Medical College, Pimpri.
The Lokhande’s are looking forward to Neeta’s life, post-surgery. “After the surgery, she will have to make some compromises. But the doctor has assured us she would be able to work full time and lead a normal life,” said Radhika.
When asked about her post surgery plans, Neeta said, “I am excited to resume my work. I’m passionate about designing and landscape architecture.”
Also, after the surgery, Neeta is looking forward to talking over the phone. “The cochlear device needs an accessory to connect via Bluetooth. I will be able to buy with my next month’s salary,” she said.
Despite repeated attempts, Dr Zarir Udwadia, under whom Neeta is taking TB treatment, refused to comment on the surgery.
The link to the crowd funding campaign to help Neeta raise money for her surgery on May 20 is https://milaap.org/
(* We have changed the name of the patient to protect her identity)