Love thy neighbour: Timely help saves 95-year-old


Mahesh Malar gets him tested for Covid-19, pays Rs 1.3 lakh for treatment

Purshottam Shah couldn’t have asked for a better neighbour than Mahesh Malar. The 95-year-old retired garment trader from Girgaum owes his life to Malar, who not only got him tested on time for Covid-19 and hospitalised last week, but also foot his bills amounting to Rs 1.30 lakh.

Shah began showing symptoms of Covid-19 on May 12. Since the couple is child-free and has few relatives in the city, Malar took it upon himself to attend to him. “Uncle had a stomach ache. I called up a local physician and he prescribed some medicines. But his condition only worsened—he developed a fever and had difficulties with breathing,” said the 50-yearold whose family has lived next door to Shah and his 93-year-old wife Sushila in the over 100-yearold building for seven years.

On the physician’s advice, Malar took Shah to a radiology centre for a chest X-ray on May 14. The report indicated pneumonia patches on both lungs, following which he was advised Covid-19 testing.

Within hours, Shah’s health deteriorated further. He struggled to take the stairs on reaching home and neighbours came together to carry him up three floors.

The next day, Malar started calling up several laboratories, asking for a private swab collection. “They all said the results would be delayed by at least four days. I didn’t want to wait for so long because I had read multiple reports of the elderly succumbing to the disease owing to late intervention,” he said.

Malar and two other neighbours, Atul and Rajan, then began desperately calling up hospitals, pleading for a bed. But the hospitals they reached out to either didn’t have any available or asked for submission of a Covid-19-negative certificate before admission. Around 12 am, thanks to the physician’s intervention, the neighbours were able to get him into Bhatia Hospital in Tardeo.

The hospital sent his swabs for testing, which returned positive on May 17.

By then, Shah turned critical. He was put on oxygen support and administered hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug that is being used to treat Covid-19, in conjunction with other medicines.

The treatment worked and his condition improved. He was shifted to the general ward after his condition stabilised. Dr Jeenam Shah, a pulmonologist at Bhatia Hospital, said besides timely testing and treatment, what worked in Shah’s favour was the absence of comorbidities despite his advanced age. “He had no other ailment, which help him fight the virus. Had he been brought to the hospital even a day later, it could have been fatal.”

Pining for his 93-year-old wife, Shah asked to be discharged from the hospital on Thursday. “He cried, asking to be reunited with her. Since his other test reports gave him an all-clear, we decided to place him under home isolation for a week,” said Dr Shah. His second Covid-19 test restult is awaited.

In the meantime, Malar ensured that Sushila faced no troubles. His family took care of her in Shah’s absence. He paid a deposit of Rs 50,000 during hospital admission as well as the treatment bills out of his pocket.

When Shah returned home, residents of the building gave him a grand welcome.

Malar brushed off concerns about the financial burden he had taken up. “Uncle and aunty always treated us as their children. It was time we gave back,” he said.

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