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SUCCESS STORIES - Leprosy

Alcohol: The Damage Lives On...

Fourteen year old Meena (name changed) from Chennai is studying ninth standard. Her mother committed suicide by setting herself ablaze, after years of severe physical abuse from her alcoholic father. Meena was then sent to live with her grandparents, even though her grandfather too was alcoholic. Noticing a patch on Meena's arm her grandmother took her to a private doctor, who prescribed an ointment; but even after a year the patch failed to disappear. To add to her woes the fingers on her right hand became crooked.

Finally at the GREMALTES Hospital - better known as the German hospital - she was diagnosed with leprosy, and treated successfully with multi-drug therapy (MDT) for a year. The German hospital referred the case to Pope John Garden (a project supported by DFIT) for Reconstructive Surgery. The surgery was done on her claw hand in May 2014. Meena's Grandmother hopes that with physiotherapy the hand will come to right. She is very worried about her future, but we have assured her that we will support her higher education. Meena's story well illustrates the catastrophic consequences of alcohol addiction on poor families.


Treatment for Marginalized Communities

Vignesh, 21, belongs to the Irula Tribe, scheduled communities from Tamil Nadu, who traditionally live in dense forests and subsist by catching snakes and rats. Over time they have become bonded unskilled labourers in rice mills, and now most are engaged in the construction industry. Vignesh lives with his parents and two siblings, and was brought up by his mother, his father being severely addicted to alcohol. Having studied up to seventh standard, Vignesh was forced to drop out of school because of severe migraines, and now works as a construction labourer earning 450/ a day. Noticing a patch on his arm his mother (who suffered from leprosy) took him to hospital where he was diagnosed and treated successfully for the same disease, with multi-drug therapy for six months.

Six years later, however, he developed a clawed hand. He was referred to the district leprosy office in Poonamalle, and the district nucleus team referred him on to Pope John Garden (a project supported by DFIT) for surgery, and in addition to a physiotherapist, Mr Sakkaraias. He was operated on in May 2014. This case study highlights the reach of our referral services to people in marginalized communities.


All's well that ends well...

Chukka Laxmana, 36, hails from a village in Vizianagaram district and works as a seasonal labourer. He initially noticed ulcer on his left foot. He visited many private hospitals in an attempt to find out the cause of his symptoms, but none of them was able to give a correct diagnosis. When medical workers visited the Bhairipuram village to identify new cases, they examined Laxmana and immediately admitted him to IP Wards, Chilakalapalli for the treatment of these severely infected ulcers, and provide him medical & physio care for early deformities. He was treated with steroids, antibiotic for infected ulcer, physiotherapy with active and passive exercises.

Laxmana was admitted for a month almost. Laxmana showed excellent improvement with the treatment, and his ulcers were completely healed. Laxmana was counselled about leprosy and self care. He was happy to head back his home after spending one month in the hospital. His wife was a constant source of motivation. She inspired him to patiently complete the treatment. As he completed one month's treatment, he said "Now I can undoubtedly get back to work and support my family. I'm extremely grateful to project Damien for the support. I may never be able to return your hospitality". It is our privilege to provide timely service and heal the wounds.


For Art's Sake...

Resilience in the face of adversity is the greatest gift one can have. It often needs the necessary nudge and salutary support to manifest. The case of Nandkishore is a good example.

Mr. Nandkishore is 59 years. His dexterity in drawing fetched him a career. He drew for an industry that got him regular income. He was content and happy that he could feed his family of wife and two children. Everything was well until disaster struck. His disease which he thought had gone when he was treated for some months 23 years back, came back. His right hand became weak; he could not indulge in his passion and work. He went to the doctor who said it was leprosy again and treatment with MDT was started. After one year of treatment he was told that his disease was cured but he was left with the crooked right and. His world came upside down. His family left him, his friends deserted him and the society did not look at him kindly. He went to a referral centre managed by an NGO. He was advised corrective surgery. He readily agreed. Some months following surgery at Goyala dairy centre in New Delhi he regained the ability to draw again. Slowly he regained his confidence and skill. He became a man with passion. He never thought he would be able to relive the happy days. His eyes glisten when he expresses his gratitude to Damien Foundation for helping him get back the life that he thought he had lost.


A stitch in time...

Ampilli Sankara Rao, 22, an active young student loves to play football. He resides with his parents in a small village of Vizianagaram district.

A year ago he noticed small patches on his skin, and was in some pain in the right elbow. He visited private doctors hoping to get his sickness treated. The doctors gave him pain-killers but the relief was temporary. A few months later his pain worsened, and noticed more patches on his skin. He reported to a nearby Primary Health Centre (PHC). The PHC medical officer diagnosed it as leprosy and started Multi Drug Therapy but overlooked his problem in the right elbow.

Sankara faced stigma from his friends and neighbours, but he never lost the hope of getting back to his normal life. He reported to New Hope Rural Leprosy Trust, a project supported by Damien Foundation. He was admitted with severe nerve & muscle pain, and a clawed little finger. Though diagnosed with neuritis, he responded very quickly to the steroid treatment and soon his deformity disappeared. He exuded confidence throughout the treatment.