Ahmedabad: At a time when the coronavirus crisis has imposed harsh challenges across India, the story of Misbah Kharawala, a 23-year-old woman from Jamalpur in Ahmedabad, and her husband, Faisal, is a symbol of strength, grit and hope.
On 9 May, in a locked down Ahmedabad, Misbah was brewing tea for her family when her clothes caught fire. Hearing her screams, her husband and neighbours rushed to help her but 71 per cent of her skin had already suffered severe burns by then.
Faisal scrambled to find his wife a hospital bed in a city that was recording daily spikes in Covid infections. To add to the trouble, Jamalpur was a Covid hotspot at the time. In conversation with ThePrint, Misbah recalled, “None of the private hospitals in the city were admitting me. Once, we told them that I was from Jamalpur, they denied us treatment in the hospitals.”
Faisal added, “Since, we weren’t able to find treatment on our own, we decided to seek help politically.” Faisal reached out to Imran Khedawala, MLA of Jamalpur-Khadia, for help. Khedawala pulled some strings and had Misbah admitted into LG Hospital, Ahmedabad.
According to protocol, the doctors at the hospital tested her for Covid. Misbah’s troubles took a new turn when she tested positive for the virus. Since she wasn’t in a designated Covid-19 hospital, she was shifted to the city’s SVP Hospital.
Dr Vijay Bhatia, plastic and cosmetic surgeon, said that in his records, this was the first such case where a patient who had suffered burns had contracted the novel coronavirus. This made the treatment especially complex.
Dr Bhatia explained, “Burns make the body immunocompromised because there is a loss of proteins from the body along with a loss of fluid and bacteria invasion. The patient is in an immunocompromised state anyway and Covid-19 causes more problems.” Moreover, the safety of the doctors themselves is at risk with such a complex procedure.
Since Misbah had such extensive and severe burns, she needed a skin transplant. This procedure would prove to be especially difficult in the middle of a lockdown. Faisal wanted to get a transplant from a skin clinic in Belgaum in Karnataka, but this was a tall order. Nevertheless, Faisal remain undeterred. He drove 2,500 km to Belgaum and back, over 36 hours straight, only taking a break once for lunch, to make sure his wife got her skin transplant.
After spending 70 days in the hospital, a recovered Misbah was discharged from the hospital in the first week of July. She was welcomed back home be her one-year-old son, Mohammad, whom she had missed terribly, and had interacted with only over video call while in the hospital.
ThePrint’s Praveen Jain and Kairvy Grewal document Misbah’s return home after her traumatic ordeal.
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