News / Asia

    Indian Surgeon Helping Polio Patients Take First Steps

    Indian Surgeon Helping Polio Patients Take First Stepsi
    X
    October 09, 2013 4:33 PM
    India is getting close to marking its third year without a new recorded polio case, setting the stage for the South Asian country to be officially declared polio-free in January. While much has been done to immunize infants against the disease, millions of people are living with polio, unable to live a normal life. One surgeon is working to change that. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from New Delhi.
    Aru Pande
    India is getting close to marking its third year without a new recorded polio case, setting the stage for the country to be officially declared polio-free in January. While much has been done to immunize infants against the disease, millions of people are living with polio, unable to live a normal life.

    But one surgeon is working to change that. 

    At one of New Delhi’s oldest hospitals, in the only designated polio ward in all of India, patients like Abida Khatoon have only one goal.

    “I can stand and walk," Khatoon said. "I just need a little help, and soon I won’t need that as well. Soon, I will be able to walk on my own.”

    It took two months of surgery and rehabilitation at St. Stephen’s Hospital for Khatoon to achieve her life-long dream of being able to walk.

    She and other young women in this eight-bed ward credit Dr. Mathew Varghese, an orthopedic surgeon who has devoted his entire career to restoring mobility and dignity to those left crippled by the poliovirus that invades the brain and spinal cord, causing paralysis.

    “All these girls have been crawling, except for this one, all the others have been crawling," Varghese said. "The other muscles are very weak. They have never had the opportunity to stand on their two feet. For the first time in their lives - like this girl is paralyzed at six months -- she has never been able to stand on her two feet.”

    As India gets closer to officially being declared polio-free, the effect of the massive immunization effort can be seen in the hospital, with Varghese now mostly treating people in their early twenties as opposed to young children some two decades ago.

    In 1990, New Delhi alone saw 3,000 new polio cases. Now that number is zero.The trend is reflected here at this polio ward, where at its peak it saw 600 patients annually. Now that number is down to fewer than 200.
     
    Rotary International has been on the frontline of India’s polio eradication efforts and helps fund reconstructive surgeries at St. Stephen’s.  Former Rotary President Rajendra Saboo saw the need to give polio patients a second chance at a normal life during a trip to a village in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

    “Then another child came, also crawling," said Saboo. "And I said ‘what is happening to these children?’ They seem to have been struck by polio. And the villagers said, ‘no, no, no, just forget them, they are dust.’”
     
    But Rotary and Varghese did not forget them. Patients hear about the ward and travel to New Delhi from across India in hopes of correcting bent legs and feet. No one is turned away.

    After weeks in the hospital, 19-year-old Abida Khartoon is getting ready to go home to her village in Uttar Pradesh.

    “If I had only met Dr. Varghese earlier, I wouldn’t have had as much hardship in life," she said. "My hands wouldn’t be so calloused [from using them to get around]. Because of him, I am doing better," she said tearfully.
     
    But Khartoon is not the only one brought to tears. When asked what this surgeon’s dream is -- the answer was simple.
     
     “My dream," he asked, trying to choke back his own tears. "This ward should be empty. No polio."

    You May Like

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    South Korea Says North Korea Moving Closer to Rocket Launch

    Pyongyang had notified International Maritime Organization and ITU of plan to launch 'Earth observation satellite' between Feb. 8 and Feb. 25, but has now changed the dates

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
        Next 
    by: Ajiesh George from: Troy, MI
    November 03, 2013 7:39 AM
    Without an excellent team of physical therapists these patients would not be walking....

    by: Amit Jha from: Thane, Maharashtra.
    October 28, 2013 1:26 PM
    I am also affected by polio......bt now i can walk easily like others.......bt still my 1 leg is not so strong......can anyone give me solution

    by: girish from: Karnataka
    October 21, 2013 2:42 AM
    Great work done by sir bill gates and the Dr,helping patient to lead normal life of young girl ...young people are asset of the nation if they suffer nation suffers....motivates me to do help ...

    by: Mashood Ali from: Karachi Pakistan
    October 18, 2013 12:15 PM
    It'sy great wish to have a word with Bill Gate. Can I have the cell no.
    I just retired from my job as a Senior Advertisement Manager/.Branch Manager Khaleej Times Abu Dhabi.

    by: Hari from: Chennai
    October 17, 2013 10:44 PM
    While in the west still some religious fanatics are thinking vaccinations are evil, there are visionaries here who wqnt to eradicate this disease altogether

    by: lenin from: kerala
    October 17, 2013 9:06 PM
    Person like him is saving our earth from powerful and dangerous events

    by: ananth from: mumbai
    October 17, 2013 12:34 PM
    extraordinary person. A living example for others.

    by: Dona from: UNited States
    October 17, 2013 9:11 AM
    This is what life is all about helping and not destroying others. God bless this doctors hands.

    by: James from: London
    October 17, 2013 3:57 AM
    What great work this individual is doing. Amazing work! It is people like this doctor that change people's lives

    by: Vivek from: Hyderabad
    October 17, 2013 3:53 AM
    Kudos to Dr.Verghese 4 his noble will n good work!!
    Comments page of 2
        Next 

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.