COVID-19 survivors’s tales | Age no bar in Latur couple’s triumph over COVID-19

The third week of March proved to be Suresh Chavan’s summer of disquiet: five members of his family including his wife and two children had tested positive for COVID-19. But he was especially disconcerted when his centenarian father Dhenu Chavan and his nonagenarian mother, Motabai contracted the virus and were suffering from high fever.

As the lethal second wave of the pandemic began engulfing rural Maharashtra, many in the village of Katgaon Krishna Tanda (around 18 km from Latur city) feared the end was near for their beloved and venerated residents — 105-year-old Dhenu and 95-year-old Motabai.

“Several villagers advised me against taking them to a hospital. They kept saying no one returned once they went inside one… My 75-year-old elder brother was especially anxious. He was disturbed about not being able to perform our parents’ last rites in the event of their passing away in the hospital… ‘What if the authorities did not give the bodies back?’ he kept saying,” recalls Mr. Chavan,51, the youngest of eight siblings.

Suresh Chavan, however, decided to take his parents to the civil hospital and accordingly admitted them to Latur’s Vilasrao Deshmukh Government Institute of Medical Science.

What happened over the next eight days has become the stuff of legend not only in Latur, but across much of Marathwada and neighbouring States as well.

“Being ardent warkaris (devotees making the annual pilgrimage to the shrine of Lord Vithoba in Pandharpur), my parents naturally had great faith in God… While I tried to maintain a calm exterior, in my heart of hearts, I feared for their lives. But it was the fruit of their good deeds and their ardent faith which saw them defeat the malignant force of this virus,” believes Mr. Chavan.

Whether a strong immune system, good genes, or an unfashionable, yet unshakeable faith in divine providence, Dhenu Chavan and Motabai’s triumph over Covid-19 is a rare shining light amid much heartbreak and loss in Maharashtra, which is still witnessing an average of 300 deaths daily.

“When they checked-in on March 24, both were in a critical condition…but their eventual triumph is truly inspirational and astounding,” says Dr. Sudhir Deshmukh, Dean of the Institute.

Dr. Gajanan Halkanche, who treated them, says early detection and diagnosis was key to the speedy recovery of the couple. Even then, he professes astonishment at their remarkably rapid recovery.

“Given their respective ages, they had an alarming CT (computed tomography) score of 15/25. Both were administered the full course of Remdesivir for five days and were given high-flow oxygen (HFO). They began responding well to treatment after just two days. Ultimately, their immune systems were very strong and could cope with this kind of treatment. A lifelong regimen of hard-work and good habits held them in good stead,” said Dr. Halkanche, speaking to The Hindu.

Dhenu Chavan has been working the fields for more than 65 years. According to Suresh Chavan, his father, a large-hearted man fundamentally generous by disposition, is affectionately known as ‘Naik’ in villages and taluks beyond Katgaon Tanda and Latur district.

To say Dhenu Chavan’s long, rich life has been eventful would be an understatement.

“Both my parents have witnessed cataclysmic natural events besides having been in the thick of historical and political upheavals. So, when they contracted COVID-19, their first reaction was that of insouciance…they said they had seen off so many epidemics, earthquakes and pandemics, one more would scarcely make any difference,” recalled Mr. Chavan.

A child of two when the Spanish Flu exploded in India (known as Bombay Fever in Maharashtra), Dhenu Chavan has since witnessed the turmoil of Independence, the 1993 Latur earthquake, the subsequent plague of 1994, and the 2009 Swine Flu pandemic among other upheavals.

“All their lives, my parents have believed in doing good for others. They urge the younger generation not to behave deceitfully towards anybody, but to help, be honest and develop a strong character. My father gave away portions of his big landholdings to tenants, donated land for public works. They ascribe their feat of beating the dreaded virus to the blessings and affection of the many people they have helped in the course of their lives. So much so, since the news broke, I have getting calls from people from districts all over Maharashtra and even from villages in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh,” said Mr. Chavan.

He feels proud that his parents’ triumph has sparked hope across Marathwada as well as the rural hinterland of Maharashtra, where people are now approaching the fight against the pandemic in a more positive frame of mind.

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Printable version | Jun 25, 2021 10:10:52 AM |

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