Naveen Kumar vividly remembers the day he came under a JCB machine, just outside his school in Royapettah.
Like the other boys in his class, he had stepped out of the school to buy snacks from an old woman vendor who sat there, when the machine rammed into them. The vendor, who tried to get him out of the way of the vehicle, died on the spot.
Naveen was pinned under the vehicle and his left leg, which was completely crushed, was later amputated above the knee. However, doctors at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital managed to save his right leg.
Naveen underwent four surgeries. A team of vascular surgeons had to remove a vein from his lower leg and create an artery to revive his wounded right leg. “There was a huge gap where the tissue had been damaged and we did a bypass surgery,” recalled M. Rajkumar, a vascular surgeon who was part of the team.
Five months after the injury, Naveen is learning to walk again on an imported prosthesis, thanks to the Ungalukagha Charitable Trust. He is still unsteady and experiences a lot of pain as the prosthetic foot was fitted only five days ago.
According to his orthotist, R. Dinesh Kumar, Naveen will need to practice for two months before he becomes confident with the use of his artificial leg.
“I walk from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day, and my leg hurts,” said the 12-year-old, who dreams of becoming a police officer when he grows up.
Naveen’s father, a private security guard, gave up his job to care for his son. Doctors say Naveen will be back to school in the next academic year.
The prosthetic limb, imported from Germany at a cost Rs. 90,000, will need to be replaced to accommodate the Naveen’s growth. “He may need five or six replacements until he becomes an adult. Usually, replacements are required every 18 months,” said Trust founder and sports medicine specialist, Dr. Suneel.
“We have assured the family that we will ensure that he gets replacement prosthesis whenever he needs it. We have also decided to fund his education,” he added.
Naveen’s prosthesis is lightweight and comes under a one of a kind public-private partnership initiative that the GH is hoping to take forward, said hospital dean V. Kanagasabai.
The Institute for Rehabilitation Medicine in K.K. Nagar also makes prosthetic limbs but they are heavy and unwieldy, doctors said.