As Dr Sushil Deshmukh asked the hospital staff to prep for Nitin’s surgery, he already knew at the back of his mind that the journey to the hospital is going to be long and arduous. As parts of Pune, in Maharashtra were shut down to make way for the annual Sant Tukaram Maharaj Palkhi procession, Dr Deshmukh was forced to embark on an eight km long journey by foot after abandoning his car midway, to save the life of a critically ill patient who was in need of surgery.
What happened to the patient?
Not only him but the patient too, had to walk for an hour before he could reach the hospital. For 30-year-old Nitin Nathaji Raybhan, a resident of Lohegaon, this year’s procession-watching tradition was no different until he started experiencing discomfort in his abdomen around 12:30 am. However, his family decided to take him to Vishwaraj Hospital in Loni Kalbhor when the pain resurfaced again.
With all roads to the hospital blocked, Nitin had no option but to walk for an hour, and when he finally reached the hospital on the morning of July 9, his condition had significantly deteriorated.
Dr Sushil Deshmukh’s efforts to save a life
General and Laparoscopic Surgeon, Dr Sushil Deshmukh was the on-call doctor for the day. While talking to The Logical Indian, he recounted his experiences from that day. Sushil received a call from his attendant who informed him that ultrasound had revealed a 22 cm long pocket in a patient’s liver (abscess) with almost half a litre of pus.
Dr Deshmukh, who was in constant touch with the hospital staff, ordered a CT scan to get a better understanding of the patient’s condition. He said, “Between the ultrasound and the CT scan, the abscess had somehow ruptured and the pus had already started spreading inside his abdominal cavity.” It was then that Nitin was shifted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
Emphasizing the time-sensitive nature of the matter, Dr Deshmukh added that in cases like these, the survival rate of the patient is very slim, unless operated immediately. “ A Ruptured Liver Abscess (RLA) can be fatal RLA and lead to sepsis,” he added. As Nitin’s condition deteriorated, Dr Deshmukh knew that there’s not much time left.
He said, “The annual procession is a big thing in Pune because the Palkhi halts here for a couple of days, my house is 18 kms away from the hospital, and the roads were all blocked due to the procession and people.”
He left his house around 11 am on that morning, and after driving at a snail’s pace for a few kilometres, Dr Deshmukh finally decided to leave his car behind and finish the rest of the journey by foot.
A walk to remember
Even though he looked for alternative routes to reach the hospital, all efforts were in vain. “I decided to start walking from Hadapsar, where I parked my car because time was running out and I needed to reach the hospital before it was too late.” It took four hours for him to navigate through the crowd of pilgrims. He reached Loni railway station where he stopped a motorcycle rider who finally gave him a lift to the hospital.
Deshmukh upon reaching the hospital had to rush to the operation theatre. “I finally started operating around 5 pm and finished the laparoscopic surgery in three hours.” Nitin was then kept on a ventilator for a couple of days and is presently recovering. He is to be discharged on July 19 from the hospital.
As humble as anyone can be, talking about his deed, Dr Deshmukh said that what he did was in his line of duty and that there are certain things that doctors have to do in order to save their patient’s life. He said, “I know many doctors who are my friends who have done things of a similar nature for a case, and my situation was no different.”
The Palkhi procession is an age-old tradition where thousands of devotees from all over Maharashtra travel with the Palkhis as they make their way through the designated routes. The Sant Tukaram Maharaj Palkhi had halted at Vithhal Mandir in Loni Kalbhor on July 9 and Pune came to a complete standstill. The procession not only obstructed transport, but even hospitals in the city had shut down their outpatient departments. Dr Deshmukh said, “Only the emergency wards were running, and everyone knows that they will not be able to reach the hospital.”
The Logical Indian Take
Doctors like Sushil Deshmukh restore our faith in humanity. Had he not decided to walk the rest of the way, risks associated with Nitin’s condition would have increased manifold.
Shouldn’t the civic authorities plan these procession routes in a better way so that at least the emergency services can function?
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