Thirty-five-year-old Babita had to endure pain and psychological stress for 20 years before she had an image makeover at the 10-day Rotaplast Medical Camp at the Unity Hospital in Firozabad near Agra. “Her upper parts including the torso were grievously burnt, her hands crippled and she could not move her face due to stiff, rigid neck. We had to do extensive skin graft surgeries on her for eight hours to transform her figure to some modicum of presentability,” said Project Chair Rahul Wadhwa from RC Agra Tajmahal, RID 3110. Post-surgery, Babita is now able to move her limbs and take care of herself, even as the facial scars will take time to heal to a certain extent. Her two brothers were happy that she could smile for the first time after long years of suffering and agony.
For the Rotarians of RCs Agra Tajmahal, Firozabad, Agra North and Shikohabad, the joint organisers, this camp is the most successful one as “as the 25-member surgical-cum-volunteer team from the US performed 148 cleft lip, palate and burn procedures on 82 patients out of 185 diagnosed at the OPD,” said Wadhwa. This is the third year the clubs are organising the Rotaplast camp. The patients were accommodated at the Unity Hospital and were given food and refreshments during their stay and treatment. “Not a penny was charged on patients who had come from far-off districts of Uttar Pradesh, thanks to our elaborate publicity campaign six months prior to the medical camp through social media, hoardings and banners in the city and nearby villages.” Even the transportation cost was met by Rotary as most of the patients can’t afford to travel such a long dance to the camp venue.
The Rotarians distributed 30,000 handbills across 70 villages around Firozabad to urge people to avail treatment at the camp. Besides, autorickshaws with PA systems were engaged to publicise about the camp and standees were put up at clinics in Firozabad to spread the message. “We selected patients from 13 screening camps that preceded the surgical camp. While the doctors came from Guatemala, Colombia and the US, they were ably supported by eight Rotary volunteers from America,” said Wadhwa.
Unity Hospital Director Dr Ravi Pachauri extended support by providing three operation theatres, pre-operative and post-operative ICUs and technical and support staff for the Rotaplast team to accomplish their mission. Sharing his experience, Rotaplast Medical Director Alex McCulloch said, “I have not seen such burn cases in my life. I will come here again next year too to be part of this valuable project.”
Mission Director Rtn Tom Fox, Director, Rotaplast International, recalled the various missions he had undertaken and said that the “potential to do good” was maximum at this mission in Firozabad as he could reach out to a large number of communities who can’t afford basic healthcare.
I have not seen such burn cases in my life. I will come here again next year too to be part of this valuable project.
Rotaplast Medical Director
As the doctors were able to do only 13–15 surgeries a day in their 10-day schedule, Wadhwa said a lot of patients in need of surgery have been left out and have to wait till the Rotaplast mission next year. “We will be reaching out to all the UP districts and bring in most number of rural, poor patients next year,” he said. .
On the penultimate day, doctors briefed the beneficiaries on the need to take care of their bandaged wound and the procedure for its weekly dressing once they were discharged. “It was a celebration of sorts with Rotarians cutting the cake and patients thanking the medical mission. Some patients who could not reach home were allowed to stay at the hospital for two more weeks,” said Wadhwa. Local surgeon Dr Deepak Gupta and support staff Ajay Parashar took post-operative care of the patients. President-elect Divya Wadhwa from RC Agra Tajmahal, PDG Laxmi Kant Bansal (RC Firozabad), PDG Naresh Sood (RC Agra North) and Rtn Ashok Babu Agarwal (RC Shikohabad) were part of the Project Coordination team led by Wadhwa.