A 65 year old Mr. Murugasan from Panruti, a city in Tamil Nadu became homeless after the death of his wife. He has two sons but they never wanted Murugasan to be with them. Therefore, he left his village and came to Pondicherry to survive. He knew no one in Pondicherry, so he took the streets as his shelter to live. During the day he used to go for labour work and in the night he used to sleep along with other homeless people on the streets. One day while at work a stone hit his left leg and made him disable. The little wounds grew big due to the unhygienic environment. At the beginning stage, he went to the government hospital for the treatment but nothing was done to treat the wounds rather gave him a few basic tablets and sent him back to the streets. This feeble old man would scream in pain. He passed many nights without sleep. Looking at his painful struggle, a fellow homeless man took him to the Government Hospital for the treatment, this time also the same thing happened in the hospital. The nurses did not touch his wounds nor did they give any injection but sent him back without admission with a few basic tables. He became helpless. Day by day the wounds enlarged and he was no longer able to walk. Now he took a roadside tree as a shelter, all these days he ate with his earnings but now he literally begged. 24 hours sitting and laying in one place looking at his wound, feeling helpless, even to go to the toilet, what a miserable feeling it could have been to Murugasan.
One day at night Mr.Anumuthu Snehan, founder happened to travel that road, this is what he described.
From a distance, I heard the groaning sound of a person. I stopped my bike and went near the tree to find where the sound was coming from. I saw one boney old man, named Murugasan, holding his left leg with his left hand. As I went near him, the “rotten smell” pierced my nose, he was groaning in unbearable pain. After seeing his condition, I rushed to the medical store and bought a painkiller tablet and bottle of water.
Next day morning I went with a first aid kit, and did dressing for his wounds, even though I am not a medical person, but little that I know is to clean the wounds and give basic tablets. As I was cleaning, I saw hundreds of maggots coming out of his open wound. It took two hours to clean but still I could not succeed in removing all of them. But managed to clean, hoping that he would get well. Next day morning, I came again to do dressing hoping that maggots would have died, but to my amazement it multiplied more than yesterday. As I was removing the banded foot skin along with his nails came out, worms were coming out and claiming up and down. I didn’t know what to do, but did not give up. I kept cleaning, the outer skin was falling off, I took scissors and trimmed out the skin. This time, I took my 12 year old elder daughter to support me in cleaning. By looking at the open wound, worms, falling skin, my daughter was in tears. After 2 hours of cleaning, I came back home. That night I had a sleepless night thinking about poor Murugasan and his suffering.
Pleading for medical admission
I know it’s not in my range to get medical treatment for Murugasan, so I took one of Snehan’s staff and went straight to the government hospital. I explained Murugasan’s condition to one of the duty doctors, after listening, he told me that they can’t admit a patient without blood relatives but however you can talk to the director. But on that particular day, the director was on leave. Again I went to the doctor and told him that the director is not on duty, therefore, hurry to help us. But the doctor would not listen, he asked me to come tomorrow. By the time I came out of the hospital, it was lunchtime, so I bought lunch and a tablet for Murugasan and went back home.
The next day morning again I went to the hospital to meet the director; luckily he was at the office. I went and told him about Murugasan’s emergency medical need, he too told me the same thing that it’s a policy that without blood relatives they are not admitting any patient for the treatment. Then I asked him, what if the patient is an orphan? He didn’t answer my question. He started telling me, why don’t you admit him in the old age home? I answered him and said, at present, he needs immediate medical treatment. If you don’t admit him, how would you expect old age homes to keep him forever with his rotten leg? But then i said if you know any such home please recommend him for admission. Then he told me to meet PRO in the hospital, but on that day he was on leave therefore he asked me to come on the next day. Again the second day and third day wasted in meeting officers after officers thinking they would help. At last nothing happened, it was 2 pm in the afternoon, I went to Murugasan, and told him nothing is working out to put you in the hospital, because you don’t have relatives and added to that due to Covide cases hospital beds are full. He could not answer me, I looked at him and said, i am going, he looked at me, waving his hand and saying bye. I came back home saying I did all that I could but in vain, so I am going to leave him, to suffer and die like many, this is what I was thinking in my mind for “ I am helpless as he is”.
The helpless look of Murugasan
That night, I could not get sleep, again and again, Murugasan’s face appeared before me. His look, suffering, rejection, again made me decide to go to the police station and ask for help in admitting him in the hospital.
The next day morning, I went to the police station and explained the condition of Mr.Murugasan and requested the inspector to recommend the hospital for Murugasan’s treatment. The inspector started telling me that the doctor doesn’t listen to us, but will try admitting him in the old age home. I said ok because all that he needs at the movement is proper medical care. So the inspector asked me to come at 6 pm in the evening, I went and waited for almost two hours with no sign of him coming to the office, then one of the police constables told me that he went on special duty, he may come very late therefore he asked me to come in the morning. I was a bit discouraged by seeing all the hurdles but still went to the police station the next morning. The inspector came around 10.30 am to the station. After half an hour the inspector called me and said no homes were willing to admit him, then I said, please recommend him in the government hospital. He accepted my request and sent two police officers along with me. I rushed to the spot, quickly changed his dresses, meanwhile, the police officers also arrived at the spot with the doctor’s permission, when police began to take his basic details for record purposes, Murugasan got frightened, and in the end, he was not willing to go to the hospital. Then the police got upset and started shouting, I didn’t know what to do. The police told me to go back home. I came back home trying all the possible ways.
Paul’s heart at suffering Murugasan
I shared complete details of Murugasan to Mr.Paul the (Co-founder of kanthari), he was very much concerned and was able to understand Murugasan’s suffering because he is going through unbearable pain and undergoing treatment. He even raised little funds for his medical treatment. Paul shared the same thing with Mr.Karthik founder of Sristi Village to help me in helping Murugasan. Karthik, tried in his circle and connected me to Mr.Jose Magesh from Cuddalore. Paul spoke to his doctor friend Dr.Rajani Surendar from Bangalore to support me in treating Muragsan. Almost eight people tried to help one person Murugasan, did we really succeed in the mission?
The organization stepped in to support Murugasan
Through constant phone calls, two NGO personnel arrived to support Murugasan. They arrived in the evening with empty hands, they asked me to bring a first aid kit to dress Murugasan wound, I rushed and bought the medical things they asked for, an enthusiastic woman asked me for water and Dettol soap to wash his wounds, it’s quite strange for me, for I never heard washing decaying flesh with water, but i brought the water and soap because she told me that she is a medical professional. She took soap in her hand, she asked me to pour the water on the soap, she rubbed the soap on her hand and distilled it on the wounds, after few seconds she took dettol liquid and poured it on the wound than after few minutes poured water on the wound and wiped with cotton and added to that, did miserable banded with empathy cotton. The event was very strange to me, but I thought she knew better than me so I kept quiet. Meanwhile live video shooting was going on, taking hundreds of photographs, one person uploading in the social media on the spot. I felt more than service, advertisement was going on. I ignored all their drama, thinking that they would help Murugasan. Meanwhile, they asked me to come for a photograph; I said I don’t want it. Anyhow after a long time, they went home ensuring they would come and shift Murugasan to an old age home or they would find his sons to reunite him in the family.
Sanjeevan Palliative helps
After the strange medical help from the two NGO, Mr.Murugasan started to scream in pain and collapsed on the street. I did not know the reason, so I called Sanjeevan Palliative Care to support me in helping Murugasan. I shared all the details with Mr.Vetriselvam from Sanjeevan Palliative Care and agreed to support him the next day. Meanwhile, he was a bit upset over the unprofessional way of medical support to a dying person. He told me that we should not use water and dettol to clean decaying wounds. It made me upset for playing with the life of a dying man. Anyhow, the next day Sanjeevan Palliative team arrived on the spot and did a professional way of dressing for Murugasan wounds. But no improvement on his health, Mr.Vetriselvam met the director of the Government hospital to admit him for the treatment but nothing worked out on his admission. His condition also became worse, we all left him on the street and went back with deep pain in our hearts.
On the next day early in the morning, Mr.Murugasan died on the street like an orphaned animal. It broke our hearts to see a life dying little by little because of negligence by the doctors. How can a sick destitute person bring his/her blood relatives, to get medical treatment? When he/she is well, the family does not bother to keep them at home. Now when they are sick, disabled, doing everything in one place, will the family come to help them in the hospital? This is a strange policy; it doesn’t help the deprived in any way.
Who can take the blame for Murugasan’s death? Family, society, doctors, NGO’s or the government!