WorldTBDay: “I latched on to 1% of hope and never gave up”

World TB Day is observed on March 24, My Medical Mantra reached out to a MDR-TB survivor who fought against the dreaded disease for six years. This is her story on how she overcame a difficult battle against TB and conquered it

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“Doctors had told me that there was a 99 per cent chance that I would die. But I thought that ‘Hope keeps the world afloat,’ and I believed that I could hold on to the hope of surviving on 1 per cent. I fought against TB for six years, and overcame it on that 1 per cent,” said TB survivor Deepti Chavan.

In 1999, Deepti was detected with tuberculosis. She was only 16 years old when she was diagnosed with Multi-Drug Resistant (MDR) TB. Her left lung had failed due to the disease.

Doctors told her family that their daughter would live for a mere six months. Deepti stated, “I wanted to live so I reached out to as many foreign doctors as possible, one of the doctors, had a friend who had an expertise in treating TB. I was referred to him in 2002. I was operated by the doctor, but my health was not improving and my weight had dropped down to 25 kilos.”

Doctors had told her family that I was on the edge of death, her family had lost all hopes. They were depressed, but still, the family members tried every possible way to save her. Deepti said, “My mother and father were very strong and brave in those difficult times, and I was inspired to live by looking at their bravery. Their determination helped me make up my mind to fight against the disease.”

1999 to 2005, was a difficult time period for Deepti and her family. They had no idea if their daughter would be able to survive the disease. There was no assurance of whether things would get better. She was once again operated upon and one of her lungs was removed as it was no longer functioning. Now, Deepti is dependent on just one lung to live.

Deepti said, “You should never be afraid of anything. If you want to defeat fear, you first have to face it. It is the same with TB. I overcame TB by facing it and I defeated the disease.”

Speaking about what goes through the mind of a patient, Deepti said, “When a person is diagnosed with TB, the patient lose hope and feel like they don’t want to live. Some of them, just quit.”

Deepti is now giving hope and confidence to such patients, she is part of a group called ‘Survivors against TB.’ The group started a page on Twitter and Facebook for the welfare of TB patients. TB patients easily go into depression. So now, Deepti provides counselling to these patients.

Apart from this the group also developed a mobile android app, which provides information about TB.

Deepti concluded saying, “TB is an infectious disease. When patients are diagnosed with TB many of them are ostracised. After witnessing this, I still see that our society lacks awareness about TB. That is why I spread awareness about TB to people. I had just a 1 per cent chance of survival. I’m still alive on that hope. If hadn’t shown bravery back then, I wouldn’t be alive today. This is why TB patients have to be braver.”