Collector promises to get girl suffering from cerebral palsy admitted to a home
The grievances redress meeting held every Monday at the District Collectorate saw an unusual petition being submitted. Among many requests for protection of lives and livelihood, this one appealed for ending a 14-year-old girl’s life.
And the appeal came from none other than the girl’s mother A. Jaya. She wanted euthanasia for her daughter, who suffered from cerebral palsy. A native of Kumbakonam, Ms. Jaya said she had to make the tough decision as she was not able to see her daughter, Mathumitha, suffer anymore.
Collector V.K. Shanmugam, however, said the administration would take steps to admit the girl to a home for differently abled persons. “We will speak to the management of a home and admit her,” he said.
“She cannot walk or speak. She cannot even identify us. She sits all the time in her wheelchair or lies on her bed. The only thing she does is cry. I am taking care of her with great difficulty and I am worried about her future,” Ms. Jaya said, tears welling up in her eyes.
The woman said she and her husband M. Alagirisamy, a carpenter, moved to Erode seven years ago. They made several attempts to admit their daughter to special schools and homes.
“But they do not want to admit Mathumitha as she cannot walk or speak. We took her to hospitals in Madurai, Tiruchi and Thanjavur,” Ms. Jaya said.
The meagre income earned by her husband and the monthly assistance of Rs.1,000 for the differently abled were not enough to take care of the medical expenses of Mathumitha. Disapproving of the idea of mercy killing, psychiatrist at Erode Government Hospital V.A. Nandakumar said: “The girl seems to be suffering from a type of cerebral palsy, a congenital disorder that occurs due to various reasons. There is no known cure, but the girl can be put through rehabilitation. There are a number of homes for children with cerebral palsy and rehabilitation programmes.”
Euthanasia is not wholly allowed in India, but the Supreme Court last year ruled in the Aruna Shanbaug case that “passive euthanasia” or withdrawal of life support to patients in a permanent vegetative state was legal and laid down guidelines.