A Life Changing Birthday!

Click here to read this article in Marathi:एक अविस्मरणीय वाढदिवस!

I still remember this incident very vividly. I was working as a freelance anesthesiologist and doing general practice in my free time. I had my small day clinic in my home town, Degloor (India).

Around 2 am, my clinic bell rang; usually, patients would not come to my clinic at night. I was surprised when I opened the door. I saw a farmer couple holding a small child in their hands. The child looked very lifeless, very sick, and almost non-responsive. The parents narrated their story with teary eyes; the family was from a nearby small village, the girl child, named Rani, was suffering from gastroenteritis (vomiting and diarrhea) for more than a week. Initially, it was not severe, so they did not seek medical help. It started worsening to the point that Rani was not playing or eating properly. So, they decided to go to the hospital to get some help. By the time they reached my town, it was getting dark. They went from hospital to hospital and clinic to clinic with their sick child, but looking at her severe condition, no doctor wanted to accept her case. They all suggested to take her to a bigger city for further treatment. The nearest big city was 80 km (50 miles) from my town, which would have taken another 2-3 hours. 

Rani’s condition was worsening, and she stopped responding. Her breathing was shallow. I was not a pediatrician, nor was my clinic equipped to take care of her. But, when I saw her condition, I decided to treat her even though I was scared that she would most likely die. I was aware of her poor prognosis and the parent’s possible reaction if something goes wrong. At the same time, I knew that the family had no other option left. They could have lost Rani if they were to travel another 2-3 hours to reach the city. I took them inside my clinic. My anesthesiology skills came in handy when I was able to get intravenous access in that severely dehydrated, one-year-old child. 

Meanwhile, my brother went to get pediatric intravenous fluids with electrolytes and some medications from his pharmacy. I started her on the fluids which I had in my clinic. After receiving a few milliliters of fluid, her hands and legs started stiffening. I realized that it was due to an electrolyte imbalance, which was making her heart pump slowly. I was still waiting for proper pediatric intravenous fluid with electrolytes, which my brother was bringing from his pharmacy. Unfortunately, there was not much time left. I had to act quickly. I had an emergency kit in my anesthesia bag. I took out all those ampules and started breaking them one by one and adding calcium, 25% dextrose, and other supplements to her fluids. After a few minutes, her pale face started showing more color, her heart rate started coming back to normal, and she started opening her eyes. Soon, my brother rushed in through the door with the pediatric fluid. Within half an hour of switching her to pediatric fluids, she started talking and smiling. Everyone in the room breathed a sigh of relief!

Once she was stable, I went to take some rest. After a couple of hours, I came back to check in on her, she was comfortably sleeping in the bed with sun rays on her face, which made her glow with life. Surrounding her were even more family members who came to see her, filling my entire clinic! The whole village came to see the child when they heard about her serious condition. I examined her. Rani woke up and started playing and giggling with her family. They all were waiting to see me and thank me for saving their Rani. Her parents lifted her and put her forehead to my feet (which is an expression of gratitude and respect in Indian culture). They said today was Rani’s birthday, and if I hadn’t treated her, it would have been her last day. In that moment I felt so accomplished and blessed that I could save such a beautiful child’s life and tears rolled down my face. I gave her my blessings. Later that day, I discharged her. As I waved goodbye to Rani and her family, I thanked God for giving me the courage that I needed to save this beautiful child!

This incident reminded me of the reason I worked so hard to become a doctor; so that I can have moments like this where I can walk away knowing that I saved someone’s life!

2 Replies to “A Life Changing Birthday!”

  1. Dr. Bandari,
    I just finished reading your first story of Rani and it was heart touching to know from a young age you are at your best and today you are at your very best.

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