4 year old Mohit was playing with two of his friends outside their house. It was 7.30 p.m. and almost dark with lights from the various houses and street lamps illuminating the narrow road. Suddenly Mohit ran home to his mother crying in pain. On inquiry he replied something had bitten him.
This is the story of Mohit Rajendra Yadav. He originally belongs to Aamdhari Village in Chapra District of Bihar. His parents had migrated to Mamsa near Bhavnagar, Gujarat in search of a livelihood. Mohit is the youngest child with two elder siblings. Mohit’s father works in an iron foundry. His mother is a home maker.
Bite incident: On 24th May 2015, Mohit came home crying and reported something had bitten him. Since no one had seen the snake, his parents thought he was either stung by a scorpion or bitten by an insect. When everything else failed to pacify him and the bite area began to swell, the parents suspected snake bite. They then rushed to a local faith healer. By this time Mohit began to vomit and defecated once. He was slowly losing consciousness and when his frail body started turning lifeless, his parents decided to rush him to Taktshihji Bhavshihji, a Government hospital in Bhavnagar. It was 9.30pm.
On arrival, the child was in a critical state. Looking at the child’s condition, the hospital staff asked the parents to file a report with the police stationed at the hospital. Precious time had been lost! Mohit was put on life support and administered anti-venom. He had all symptoms of a neurotoxic bite. A point to note is that the area where the family live has a distribution of Spectacled Cobra.
This case was brought to the attention of the author on the 3rd day of the bite. Mohit was administered 25 vials of Anti venom. He was still on life support. The local bite area had developed some necrosis but under control. A local student who is also a snake rescuer reported this incident. Since Snakebite Healing and Education Society (SHE) documents snakebite victim stories, we waited for the child to get better before publishing the same.
After 4 days, the author inquired about Mohit’s condition. It was then that she was told that Mohit was still in coma. He had been weaned away from life support and anti-venom was discontinued after his condition stabilized. However the child didn’t gain consciousness. It was 31st May 2015, a good 7 days after the bite had occurred.
Something was not quite right. The author immediately reached out to the resident doctor, Dr Chirag who was unwilling to discuss the case with a stranger and understandably so. Dr Chirag suggested I talk to his boss, Dr Mehul Gosavi, Associate Prof. It was late and hence the author contacted Dr Gosavi the morning of 1st June 2015. During the conversation with Dr Gosavi, the author was given to understand that the child had suffered hypoxia insult to the brain. The doctors had performed an MRI and the results were discouraging. The author suggested Dr Gosavi consult a few snakebite expert doctors who were associated as advisors with Snakebite Healing and Education Society. In the medical fraternity, it is common practice for specialist doctors to discuss and opine on complex cases.
The author shared details of four doctors and tried convincing Dr Gosavi to call them. However on each count Dr Gosavi claimed to be busy and hence the consultation never happened. By now another 4 days had elapsed and on Friday, 5th June 2015, the author urgently began to request Dr Gosavi to share Mohit’s medical report to enable her to reach out to the concerned doctors herself. In the meantime, on the same day, the author also reached out to six snakebite specialist doctors providing as much information as she could. The doctors agreed it was a serious case with irreversible brain damage. But they also agreed to be consulted by Dr Gosavi. On Saturday morning, Dr Gosavi texted that he was proceeding for a conference and shall share the reports on Monday, 8th June 2015. Despite the authors genuine coaxing, Dr Gosavi didn’t share any further details.
Sixteen precious days had elapsed and the author was getting desperate. She called Dr Chirag and reminded him of the Hippocratic Oath that all doctors took while in medical college and chided him for not sharing basic details that could perhaps help the doctors advise on the child’s treatment. Here’s the link for better understanding of the Hippocratic Oath that all doctors take to save life and limb at all cost. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hippocratic_Oath.
Dr Chirag then shared the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score (which was 8/15) and verbally mentioned that the MRI finding was hypoxic ischemic insult. He however called the author and also mentioned that if they needed assistance, they would get in touch. It was a refined way of saying “buzz off”.
The author approached another advisor to the SHE initiative, who is a Supreme Court attorney. She in turn got in touch with the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and they promised to speak to the doctors on the ground as consulting on serious cases was an ethical code of conduct. Another 3 days elapsed and Team Snakebite Healing and Education society decided to write to Dr Pramod Jha, the Dean of Taktshihji Bhavshihji Hospital and Dr Gosavi. Dr Gosavi immediately replied to the email communication, that the patient’s condition was under control and he was being given the best of treatment. He refused to share any further details with us.
As a team we agreed that this was a gross violation of human rights (Article 21 – right to life). A young child was battling for his life while the doctors dug their heels on the ground.
SHE reached out to the Gujarat Chief Minister, Smt Anandiben Patel. While we have not heard from either the Dean or Anandiben’s office, someone has definitely asked questions regarding the case. The doctors of Taktshihji Bhavshihji Hospital apparently started investigating who was passing information to outsiders (us). Dr Gosavi called the President of the local NGO inquiring about the author and mentioned they were being harassed.
It has been 49 days since the bite occurred on 24th May 2015. Mohit lies lifeless in the hospital bed of Taktshihji Bhavshihji Hospital, being fed through tubes. He cries incoherently and continuously. His parents tend to him day and night. Mohit’s father, Rajender Yadav has no income at the moment as there is no paid leave facility in his factory. His other two children live in the corridors of the hospital as there is no one to take care of them at home. All are hoping for a miracle. Their meagre saving is fast depleting. There is little hope for the child to bounce back to normal health once again.
Snakebite Healing and Education Society is of the opinion that this is a complex case and best dealt with by consulting snake bite expert doctors and pediatric neuro-surgeons to deliberate on an aggressive treatment to stunt the damage done to the brain.While brain cells once dead cannot be regenerated, it is every Indian citizen’s right to be provided with the best of efforts to reverse a serious health condition. Time was of essence here! It was unethical on the part of the ground doctors to reject help by not talking with subject matter specialists.
Written by Priyanka Kadam
Founder – She-India.org