“Akshara has never been stubborn all her life. But now, when she is fighting for her life in the ICU, she is very stubborn – she wants her mother and me by her side all the time. But we are not allowed in the ICU always – when we have to visit her, we have to wear ICU clothes and slippers so infections do not get passed on to her. A small infection is enough to kill her at this point,” -Ashok, Akshara’s father
7 year-old Akshara was dressed and ready to go to school that day. She was running a fever, but she was determined to go any way. Her parents, Ashok and Chaya, took her to the doctor instead. From there started this family’s painful journey. Akshara was diagnosed with jaundice and admitted in the hospital, but her condition kept getting worse. In a matter of five days, this bright, cheerful child became so sick, she is now fighting to live in the ICU.
Akshara's parents are distraught and cannot come to terms with her conditionBeing the class leader and a straight A+ student, school is her most favourite place in the world. But from the last 15 days, alone in the ICU, she has been going through hell in a hospital in Hyderabad after being diagnosed with liver failure.
“We are very poor people. It was my daughter’s glowing, vibrant face that kept us going through all the tough times. After the birth of our second daughter three months back, I decided that I would quit my job as a office boy in our village in Nizamabad, and move to Hyderabad to look for better prospects. I did come to Hyderabad for sure, but it was not for better, but for worse,” says Ashok with tears streaming down his face.
Recurrent infections and breathing difficulty are her constant companions nowFrom the last three days, Akshara has been going through immense pain. She is battling an infection (deadly in her condition), her stomach is swollen and she even passes bloody stools. The worst part is that her doting parents cannot be with her in the ICU as she is at a risk of contracting other infections. They can only meet her during specific hours, that too wearing sterilized robes. Akshara also has difficulty in breathing properly. The doctors have already warned her parents that she might not survive without an urgent liver transplant.
Akshara never liked ice creams or food from outsideChaya cannot understand how her daughter, who did not like chocolates, ice creams or even oily food, could get so sick. “She never liked food from outside. She always had homemade food, no matter what. My child always listened to us. She is a good child, very mature for her age. How could such a bad thing happen to her?” she laments, adding, “She was always interested in studies and studies alone. She never played games at school too.”
She is too young to know that she is battling a serious condition
“My daughter knows that she is unwell, but she doesn’t know the gravity of the situation. How can we tell her that? We have told her that she has fever and that she will be able to go to school only if she stays in the hospital for a few days. There are a dozen tubes all over her body, but my daughter smiles when she hears the word ‘school’,” says Chaya.
How you can helpAshok is struggling financially to pay the hospital bills that have been accumulating since Akshara was admitted. He borrowed money from local moneylenders and even sold off his wife’s jewellery to pay Rs 3 lakh for medical expenses till now. Akshara needs an urgent liver transplant if she has to survive. But it costs Rs 20 lakh – an amount Ashok cannot imagine making not just in a few days but in his entire lifetime.
Adding to his woes is the fact that he is unemployed now. The family keeps shuttling between the ICU and their room with their three-month-old baby in tow, just to make sure that they do not lose Akshara. But if they do not receive enough funds soon, they might.