Victim’s background: Dharmendra Trivedi lives in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. He has worked as a translator in the Gujarat Vidhan Sabha since 1991 and served the then CM Narendra Modi between 2009-2014. He is now a part of the team of the present CM Anandiben Patel. He is married to Shilpa Trivedi and they have a 12 year old daughter, Hirva.
Bite Incident: It was the 8th of July 2008. I was in a bit of a hurry to reach my office when I received a rescue call from an IAS Officer in my city, Gandhinagar-Gujarat. Along with a fellow rescuer I reached the site and saw a big cobra trapped under a huge square cement block. At that time I was not aware that the cobra had been injured by the IAS officer’s family members. Nobody cared to intimate me. I lifted the block from the cobra’s body and it tried to slither behind a potted plant. As I tried to hold its tail it struck the back of my right hand with lightning speed. The snake struck so swiftly that even I wasn’t able to see it biting me. I just felt a slight prick.
After safely depositing the snake in a steel box, I rushed to the Civil Hospital. Immediately after the bite, I experienced severe burning sensation on the bitten area and the swelling started within 15 minutes of hospitalization. Amazingly, I was composed and my blood pressure was normal. There were no other symptoms of envenomation and I reached the Government Civil Hospital within ten minutes of the bite incident. Two vials of anti-venom were administered immediately on my arrival. The affected hand developed heavy swelling on the second day which decreased after the 4th day. Finally I was relieved from the hospital on the fifth day. Totally five vials of anti-venom were used for my treatment.
While I survived the bite, on the first day of treatment an intern rubbed the bite area due to her curiosity to see how a snake bite looks. This caused severe necrosis in the local area. I underwent surgery after 15 days to remove dead tissues. In the coming months I had to undergo skin grafting of the affected area. The tendon of my middle finger still feels sensitive to touch.
I’m sharing my story because my personal opinion is that doctors need to be trained to handle such emergencies. The reality is that in most cases doctors all over India are referring to manuals that are archaic and published decades ago. While science has progressed from that era, our medical journals and manuals have not been updated. A venomous snake bite is a life threatening situation which can be treated successfully if the victim is lucky enough to get to a doctor with the right experience and knowledge. Why should such matters be left to chance? Why can we not have trained doctors to ensure that no snakebite victim dies or suffers due to a medical goof-up?
Written by Dharmendra Trivedi.