"He's only 16, but he's so determined, focused and hardworking. His focus is always on his goal - to become the best Judo athelete. He is a gold medalist in Judo and was supposed to play his fourth national-level tournament but….” – Dhanaji, father.
16-year-old Prathamesh has represented his district Kolhapur at state-level competitions in Judo which further paved way for his place in the Maharashtra state team. Owing to his outstanding performance, he was selected for the national level competition to represent Maharashtra at Imphal this year but the events that followed changed everything for him.
I saw my son lying on the ground, paralyzed and helplessDhanaji, Prathamesh’s father, was working on a farm while Prathamesh was away at the sports complex for his routine practise when he received a call from Prathamesh’s friends. Prathamesh had collapsed during the practice session. They asked Dhanaji to hurry.
“When we reached there, Prathamesh was lying on the ground, unable to move. His body was paralysed and he could only speak softly. He asked me to take him to the hospital soon. He was so scared but he remained brave.” – Dhanaji, father.
His spine dislocated, his life at risk - the only fear he has is that he won't get to do what he loves the most
Prathamesh had suffered traumatic subluxation. In simple terms, a dislocation in the cervical spine. The spinal injury occurred in C4 and C5 sections of the spinal cord which is considered a severe condition. Due to this condition, Prathamesh’s hands and legs swelled abnormally and he wasn’t able to move his body. He also faced breathing complications. He underwent urgent surgery and is kept under observation at the ICU.
“Prathamesh loves Judo more than anything. He is dedicated to the game since he started playing in class 7. He would cycle, walk or hitchhike to the sports complex daily without fail and follow a strict routine when it comes to Judo practice. Today he is unable to do what he loves the most.” – Hema, mother.
Prathamesh is not just a good athlete, but also a good student. Currently, he studies in junior college and plans to either join the army or the police force. Prathamesh aimed for greater feats in Judo. Having participated in three national-level competitions, he was aiming for international competitions and was preparing for the same.
“He would often ask me to get him a passport saying that he would need it for international competitions. But now...my son is lying on this hospital bed. And I don't have anything to save him. Nothing! ” – Dhanaji, father.
Responding positively to the treatment, Prathamesh has recovered since the first surgery. He is being monitored regularly. He can move his hands slightly, while the lower body is still paralysed. However, he requires medical supervision for three more weeks including ICU, physiotherapy, surgery and rehabilitation. Dhanaji has covered the expenses up to Rs. 1,00,000 with help from family and friends but further treatment entails more costs which he is not able to bear given his meagre earnings as a labourer and farmer.
There is hope for this young athlete
“I don’t have work assurance around the year. Sometimes I get work, sometimes I don’t. I can’t afford the treatment costs but I need to save my bright boy. I can’t let his ambitions die.” – Dhanaji, father.