Kolkata: Netaidas Mukherjee, 52, is a hero in more ways than one.
Mukherjee is not just the first Covid-19 patient of West Bengal to have defeated the dreaded novel coronavirus after being on ventilator for over a month, but he is also a social worker who “could not stay at home during these hours of crisis”.
Although elderly people were advised to stay indoors to avoid the infection, Mukherjee, a diabetic, didn’t idle away his time at home.
He collaborated with the West Bengal Police and was actively involved in distributing relief material among the poor and needy in Kolkata and South 24 Parganas. But his social work came to a halt when he contracted the infection in March-end.
A resident of south Kolkata’s Tollygunge area, Mukherjee was admitted to the AMRI, one of the designated Covid hospitals in the state, on 29 March with high fever and breathing trouble. The next day, he tested positive and was put on a ventilator.
He was on ventilator until 2 May. According to AMRI’s medical bulletin, from 2 May, Mukherjee was on a partial ventilator for less than 12 hours a day.
Looking at his improved condition, doctors shifted him to HDU (High Dependency Unit) from ICU, and from 5 May, he didn’t need any ventilator support.
His tests came negative on 17-18 April, but he remained in the HDU until 8 May, according to the medical bulletin.
On Friday, Mukherjee walked out of AMRI amid claps and loud cheers by doctors and paramedics.
Mukherjee’s remarkable progress from being on ventilator to complete recovery is nothing short of a miracle, said a senior pulmonologist of a premier government hospital in the city.
“It is an achievement for the doctor and the team, who made this possible. Being doctors, we understand the complications of putting a patient on a ventilator and the chances of reversal. So for us, this is certainly a case to be studied to develop further advanced treatment protocol for such serious patients,” he told ThePrint.
Dr Saswati Sinha, who along with her team looked after Mukherjee round-the-clock, said it was a struggle of 42 days.
“Of these 42 days, he was on ventilator for more than a month. It is a struggle by all of us — the nurses, the doctors, the attendants and, of course, by the patient,” said Sinha, who leads AMRI’s critical care and internal medicine department.
“He was suffering from tracheostomy (a medical condition that makes normal breathing impossible). In fact, all other departments, who assisted us in this fight, deserve equal credit. I am also grateful to his family members, who trusted us since the beginning and never questioned us,” Sinha added.
‘Don’t stigmatise doctors’
Mukherjee is, however, still frail and has trouble while speaking.
In a shaky voice, he told The Print: “To me doctors are god. And I will always remain indebted to this hospital — AMRI. Me and my family will never forget what the hospital did for us in these last 42 days.”
Mukherjee runs an NGO that works for the poor and homeless.
Ever since the coronavirus outbreak in Bengal, he and his team had been working with the police to distribute food and other relief materials.
“I have some responsibilities towards society. I am an NGO worker. So I could not stay at home during these hours of crisis. But I am not a hero, as you are calling me. The doctors and health professionals are. I have just one request to all — doctors are God, treat them with respect, not with abuses and allegations. They are happily willing to accept the challenge because they have a duty towards us. Do not stigmatise them,” he added.
This report has been updated to reflect the correct spelling of Netaidas Mukherjee. The error is regretted.