Euthanasia seeker gets president’s invite after miraculous recovery

August 12th, 2008 - 1:18 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Pratibha Patil
By Jaideep Sarin
Chandigarh, Aug 12 (IANS) It’s a modern day fairytale of medical marvels. And the protagonist is engineer Seema Sood, who only two years ago sought permission from the president to die as a release from 15 years of crippling arthiritis. Now she is readying to climb the steps of the majestic Rashtrapati Bhavan. A gold medallist from the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS, Pilani), who found herself seeking mercy killing after being bedridden with an orthopaedic ailment, has now received an invitation from President Pratibha Patil. Life has indeed been a tough rollercoaster ride for the 37-year-old.

But the highs might be finally here for the woman from a village in Himachal Pradesh’s Kangra district struck by rheumatoid arthiritis that devastated not just her career but her life.

The grit and courage that went behind the miraculous recovery following her total knee replacement (TKR) surgery in May this year has been acknowledged by Patil in her detailed message to Sood.

In the letter to Sood dated July 23, President Patil has commended her for her “uncompromising courage and willpower”.

“I am delighted to know that after a long period of 15 years you have triumphed over the despair of rheumatoid arthritis and are showing encouraging signs of recovery. With this resilience and spirit I am sure that the day isn’t far when you will be able to walk again and come to meet me at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Periods of adversity in life are testing times for us. Do not regret the opportunities you have missed due to your illness. You should always look ahead for what you can do for yourself and for others like you who face adversity,” the president wrote.

The president also felicitated Manuj Wadhwa, the Mohali-based surgeon, for successfully operating upon Sood.

An excited Sood is not only looking forward to climbing the steps leading to the presidential palace in New Delhi but also of spreading the message of “never give up” to others who like her are suffering various ailments.

If Sood’s grit is the power behind her fairytale, then so is the talent and determination of Wadhwa.

She came to the Fortis Hospital, 10 km from here in Mohali, at probably the nadir of her life - soon after her euthanasia plea.

In the safe hands of the leading specialist joint knee replacement surgeon, Sood underwent the TKR procedure in May this year.

An emotional Sood said: “I am moved and grateful that the president wrote to me. There are so many people like me, yet she has shown such concern towards me. I do hope I can walk into Rashtrapati Bhavan and meet her.

“For the past 15 years, my world was full of just pain and helplessness. With this crippling disease, all I could do was sit or lie down on my bed and take a few faltering, painful steps to go to the toilet. It was a very depressing state of affairs for my family and me, and many times I would wonder what is the point of existing like this,” Sood pointed out.

Wadhwa has expressed his happiness at the success achieved in this “very challenging and rare case”.

“I also look forward to the day when this brave girl Seema is able to walk normally and go about her daily chores with ease. She is a highly intelligent, sensitive and caring person and deserves all the best in life,” Wadhwa said.

Wadhwa, who has done the highest number of TKR surgeries in Punjab this year, had Sood as his 1,000th surgery case.

The Himachal Pradesh government chipped in to help Sood by announcing that it would bear the cost of her entire treatment.

“When Seema first came to Fortis, she was bedridden and wheel chair bound and severely depressed because of her compromised quality of life at such a young age. The young 37-year-old lady weighed only 40 kg. Her case was complex because she had multiple joint involvement, her bones were severely fragile and osteoporotic, her joints had lost mobility and were fixed and her muscles were atomic and weak because she had been immobile for many years. It was a very challenging and rare case, indeed,” Wadhwa said.

Sood now feels that she could have saved her precious years and the pain she underwent had she consulted specialist doctors before.

“I would like to advise anyone who is facing an equally serious situation anywhere in the world to not waste time, move with a positive attitude and seek medical help wherever he or she is. Medical science has made tremendous strides and can be of great help. Do not let doubts or misgivings stop you from bringing sunshine back into your life,” she said here.

“We are indeed happy that our team has been able to successfully perform this rare surgery and Seema can now look at walking again. It is in cases like this that we feel even more proud of all the huge investments made by us in the latest state-of-the-art equipment and building a highly experienced and dedicated team,” Fortis hospital medical director Ashok Chordiya said.

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