For the past few weeks, 12-year-old Harshitha has been demanding a lot of answers from her parents. She constantly badgers them with questions: “Why are you not sending me to school? Can I ever go back to school? What happened to me exactly?” On Friday, her father Ramachandra Reddy dared to hope to answer at least the one about sending her back to school.
Unlike other children, and even her younger brother Satya Sheela Reddy, Harshitha did not go back to school this year. While her brother is now in Class 3, Harshitha should have been in Class 6. Instead, she has been at home, too weak to go to school because of liver disease, while her parents desperately looked for a way to save her.
Five months ago, Harshitha was diagnosed with jaundice at the Kukatpally hospital. But when her health did not improve despite medication, the hospital referred them to the Asian Institute of Gastroenterology, which diagnosed her with end stage liver disease and advised a liver transplant. By this time, the family had spent around Rs 1 lakh on treatment.
They heard that Care Hospitals provided the surgery but the news sent them into a spiral of despair as they had no hope of raising Rs 21 lakh. They even tried approaching the government-run Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS) but learned that it did not have equipment required for the procedure when performing it on children.
Ramachandra and his family moved to Hyderabad 10 years ago from Mahabubnagar. He works at the Sri Hanuman Mithayi Bhandar a sweet shop in Jagatgirigutta, Balanagar. They also live in the same area in a rented house.
“I earn just Rs 7,000 a month, which isn’t even enough to cover our monthly expenditure. How would I bear Rs 21 lakh for this surgery? The doctors said my daughter was getting weaker by day, so we needed to do this as early as possible,” Ramachandra said.
He said that they had applied for a donor, but on Tuesday, doctors urged that the surgery be done within four weeks. Public Relations Officer at Care Hospitals told The News Minute that they were prepared to reduce the cost of the surgery to Rs 18 lakh if the government provided financial assistance to the family.
On Thursday, they approached the Telangana State Human Rights Commission, seeking permission to allow the mercy killing of their daughter. After listening to them, the Commission referred them to the government. Friday morning’s meeting with Telangana Health Minister C Laxma Reddy gave them some hope: the government would sponsor the medical expenses.
After the meeting with the Health Minister, Ramachandra headed to the hospital to provide blood samples and initiate any other procedure that may be required for the liver transplant.