For a child, parents are a constant source of love, affection and joy. They can inculcate qualities like courage and honesty in the child without really putting in any extra effort. It would suffice that they themselves possess these qualities so that the child imbibes them without any coaxing or reprimands.

This is a story of one such Bohri couple who, in the face of adversity and calamity of enormous proportion, maintained their poise and dignity which ultimately transcended into their tiny tot who fought one serious complication after another with courage almost unparalleled in paediatric history. A 4-year old boy, Abbas, suffering from severe abdominal pain was admitted to a Nursing Home with very high fever and delirium. A diagnosis of perforated appendix was made. I had to shift him to Breach Candy Hospital in the middle of the night for better medical care and moreover this hospital was nearer to the patients' residence. An emergency appendicectomy was performed but to his misfortune, he developed another bout of high temperature. This time the mercury registered a temperature more than 106 degrees. The child had now become critically ill and threw up several convulsions and landed ultimately with renal shutdown. The kidneys had declared war. Then his little lungs could not cope with the stress and developed pulmonary oedema (fluid in lungs). Later it was the turn of his heart to protest as it had to work overtime. Finally the heart, too, failed not once but two or three times. On those occasions the child suffered from cardiac arrest. Every time we managed to revive the child in the Intensive Care Unit, his other organs would start protesting, but every cell in the little boy's body was fighting valiantly.

While on Respirator (a life support machine), two days later, when we went to seek the permission from his parents to perform a tracheostomy, they were initially aghast. Their little baby with a small opening in the trachea (windpipe)? It was simply horrifying. However, my explanation satisfied them and they complied. The mental agony and trauma they suffered must have been unimaginable but not once was it apparent.

The tracheostomy having been performed, I let out a sigh of relief. Little did I realise then that something frightful was in store for me. The child soon developed a condition called 'status asthmaticus' (a very serious lung ailment). That was the proverbial last straw on the back. I felt shattered and was at my wit's end. The child's suffering seemed never-ending. However, I soon collected myself - here was this child fighting bravely. I had no business whatsoever to give up.

With a sense of despondency, I approached his parents and told them of the new calamity that had befallen their little Abbas, The Bohri couple gave me a patient hearing and then the father said: " Doctor, we are not questioning you. With your help and our prayers, we are certain we will take our child home ALIVE!" His reply gave a new fiilip to my efforts. Over the next few days, we struggled ceaselessly over the child and as the saying goes: "Luck favours the brave", Abbas did go home, alive!


During his prolonged and trying stay in the hospital, the child and I had grown very fond of each other. I had become very indulgent toward him. Four days after his discharge from the hospital, the parents we asked to bring their bundle of joy for a follow-up visit. I can vividly recall that day when Abbas visited me. He was sitting facing the window and suddenly said: "Uncle, I will now sit on a horse and jump out of the window!". This young and brave cowboy from the Wild West was threatening to perform yet another feat in front of me!

This story only illustrates the fact that parents can easily pass on their anxieties and fears to their children unwittingly, but if, on the other hand, despite their inner turmoil, they put up a brave front and display an iron will, some of that is bound to rub off on the offspring. The story is now 12 years old and the parents keep me informed about Abbas's wellbeing. Abbas is now a tall, handsome, robust boy of 16 years!

Compilation of professional reminiscences of specialists - edited by M.V.Kamath and Dr.Rekha Karmarkar