Scores of Indians injured in the terror attack Tuesday last in Rajasthan in the northern part of the country are preparing to return home, but with pellets still embedded in them.
Eighty persons were killed and over a hundred injured in serial blasts in the state capital of Jaipur.
Now, after treatment, the injured are to return home, but with pellets remaining embedded in them.
Alina Maroof, who lost her baby sister to the blasts, was about to go home with her parents and little brother. "There are pellets in my stomach," she says, showing where she's been injured, "but doctor uncle says I can go home."
Divya Yadav, who has a pellet in her thigh, has also been discharged. "They say I can live all my life with this pellet in my thigh but I'm scared that something worse will happen and they may have to chop off my leg," says Divya, fear writ large on her face.
Most patients have the same query: "Why are we being sent home with pellets still embedded in our bodies?" Explains surgeon Ajay Sharma, "Medically speaking, only if a pellet is accessible and easily retrievable — or is close to a vital organ, does it need to be removed. In most other cases, the pellet is allowed to remain in the system.
Fibrosis (formation of excess fibrous connective tissue in an organ) takes place and the body heals itself." Voluntary blood donors are still being turned away by SMS Hospital's blood bank.
"This morning, we got 50 donors who came all the way from Meerut. We've made everybody register themselves but we just don't need any more blood at the moment," a spokesperson informs TOI.
At the SMS Hospital mortuary, 11 bodies still remain unclaimed.
Representatives from the Eye Bank Society of Rajasthan are working hard to counsel the families of the dead to pledge the eyes of their loved ones.
"We haven't had any donors among blast victims so far," rues Bhavna Jagwani, who works with the Society, and adds the families are too shocked to react. "We tried speaking to them but to no avail."
Two of the injured at the SMS Hospital are in a critical condition. Ram Vir, originally from Etawah, is being kept on a ventilator and doctors say his chances of making it are bleak.
"We're counselling the families of the injured but it's not easy," says Rajkumar Rajpal of Nascent Educational and Development Society.
Meantime the four-year-old Subhana who became the face of the Jaipur blasts is on the road to recovery. The youngest victim of the terrible tragedy, who lost her mother and two aunts to the attack, touched the hearts of a billion Indians.
"The pellet in her head has been removed successfully and she is healing well," informs the medical superintendent at Sawai Man Singh Hospital.
"We will observe her condition in the ICU for 24 hours, after which we will decide if she's fit to be moved into a ward," he adds. Though the little girl was wheeled in and out of the operation theatre in 90 minutes, it seemed like an eternity for the Khan family. Constantly praying through the ordeal, the news of the success of the surgery sent a cheer through the hospital.
After coming out of anaesthesia on Friday morning, Subhana had an omlette, some tea and water. Doctors attending to her say she's responding well to treatment.
Emotionally, though, Subhana has a long time to go before she gets on the road to recovery.
"She's unusually quiet and responds only by nodding her head," says uncle Amjad Khan. "Before all this, she was such a lively girl, talking non-stop, reciting the alphabet and counting up to 100. Now she only asks for her mother or cries when she sees her father," he adds.
Images of Subhana refuse to let anybody forget the impact of the events that rocked the Pink City. Her body is wrapped in bandages, her face bears injury marks, her eyes are moist and her gaze is empty... A picture of helplessness and despair, writes Anubha Sawhney Joshi in Times of India
The foreign particle that pierced her scalp, went through her skull bone and embedded itself in the outermost layer of membranes covering the brain.
Subhana's father Mustafa Khan is heartbroken. Sitting outside the ICU where his daughter lies, his eyes reflect the shock and disbelief in his heart. He greets visitors with an understanding smile and hardly sleeps. "His family was his life," says a relative.
"Subhana just had to ask for something and it would be done. Now whenever she sees her father, she asks him to call her mother." Unfortunately, Mustafa has no answers to give his daughter.