Patients at the Cuttack Leprosy Home and Hospital in Odisha, India are there for surgery to correct the disabilities they have developed because of leprosy. They stay here for months before and after their surgery, in crammed wards with little else to do other than watch the one television for the entire hospital. The food may not be great, boredom may be a common occurrence but, despite seeming a less than desirable place for most, to many this is a place of hope.
It represents the possibility that their lives may return to what they once were, free from disease and disability. Being at Cuttack means these people are getting the life-changing surgery they so desperately need.
During a visit here, we met a young girl called Subhadra. She is just twelve years old, incredibly young to be kept away from her home and family for weeks on end.
Subhadra was here because she had developed a clawed hand after she started multi-drug therapy treatment (MDT) and didn’t respond to six months of steroids. Her hand had lost so much functionality that she could no longer hold a pen. It was Subhadra’s teacher who suggested she come to Cuttack to get the surgery and have her hand functionality restored.
When we met Subhadra at the beginning of December last year, she was undertaking pre-operation physiotherapy and she proudly showed us her exercises. Dr Pati said she had good flexibility and he was hopeful for a positive result from the surgery. Subhadra said that she wasn’t scared, but excited to think that she would soon be better and able to return to school.
Subhadra’s first reconstructive surgery took place on 22nd December 2015, with a second one taking place on 12th March this year. However, during her recovery Subhadra developed acute measles and returned home to her family to be cared for. Her father tells us that they had been told Subhadra had been vaccinated against measles but this turned out not to be the case.
A month later Subhadra returned to the hospital and through her handwriting we could see that she had almost regained functionality in her hand.
Subhadra had more surgery in December 2016 to complete a correction of her thumb. Now fully recovered she has returned to school to continue her studies.
However due to the prejudice surrounding the disease she has kept her diagnosis secret as she is afraid of how her friends may react.
You can help more children like Subhadra receive the treatment and surgery they need to reclaim their childhood, and your support can also help us reach more communities to reduce the prejudice so that no child has to hide the fact they have had this disease.