A doctor in Bengaluru, among the hundreds of healthcare professionals at the forefront of the city's war against COVID-19, is fighting for his life in a city hospital after contracting the viral disease in the line of duty.
Dr Balaji Prasad's lungs suffered severe damage after he tested positive for coronavirus in mid-September. The 54-year-old nephrologist may now need a lung transplant, something his family can ill afford.
"My husband is a very kind man who never charged fee from Covid patients with limited resources; I have discovered this only now," Dr Prasad's wife Himali told NDTV. As a Covid warrior, he never hesitated in helping patients after the coronavirus outbreak, she added.
"He kept treating patients by putting his life at risk. He lived in isolation for months for our safety, even before he tested positive for coronavirus on September 17. We have my 79-year-old mother-in-law and two school-going children at home," she said.
Dr Prasad's condition is very critical now and he may need a lung transplant, his wife said. "If the condition of his lungs does not improve, we will need to shift him for specialised care... but, we can't afford his treatment," she said.
A transplant is an expensive affair, and the family's financial resources are drained.
"I need people's prayers and a little help from the Karnataka government for his further treatment; I can't afford it. I have already finished the money I had. He has served the people of Karnataka; he has put his life at risk. My children are also at a crucial stage of their education - one is in class 10 and the other is in class 12 - and I have an old mother-in-law to take care of," said Ms Prasad, thanking her husband's peers and colleagues of supporting her in this tough time. Now, we are praying for his recovery, she said.
After the wife's appeal, the Karnataka government has stepped in to help financially with the treatment of Dr Balaji Prasad. The doctor has bene moved to a hospital in Chennai. Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Ashwath Narayan, told NDTV, "Dr Balaji Prasad is a nephrologist who was working in Apollo Hospital. Since he was affected by COVID-19 virus, he has been suffering and he needs lung transplant for which he has been shifted to MGM Chennai. The government has come forward, our honourable chief minister has already granted Rs. 25 lakh. His Excellency the Governor has taken personal interest to see that the required money for treatment of Dr Balaji Prasad will be given through various agencies. One is through our state government. Rajiv Gandhi University and many more agencies will ensure the financial support for Dr Balaji will be provided. We are trying to do our best. We have spoken to the MGM doctor to provide all the health care to Dr Balaji Prasad. Since he is a Covid warrior, it is the responsibility of the government to provide all the facilities to his family and to the doctor."