Thank you for saving my life!
Story from Okhaldhunga under Health
Born in 1955 as the eldest son of a subsistence farming family, from childhood Dal Bahadur Tamang’s duty was to earn a living from their land in this mountainous region. He married and had four sons and four daughters. To make ends meet for all his children, he worked as a stone mason. In 2011, a falling stone from a quarry badly fractured his right thigh bone. His friends immediately took him to the ‘Mission Hospital’ (Okhaldhunga Community Hospital - OCH) by stretcher and jeep where he received initial treatment. A few months later he was referred to Anandaban Hospital in the Kathmandu Valley where the fracture was fixed.
Unfortunately, the bone had become infected (osteomyelitis) and he spent at least a year confined to his bed. A skin graft at OCH and many courses of antibiotics later, his situation remained the same while his family’s economic situation became even more fragile.
It wasn’t until the summer of 2020 that, while doing the baseline household survey, the hospital’s community-based rehabilitation (CBR) programme found him. His leg was painful and constantly discharging smelly pus, and he was depressed. Home visits by the CBR field staff and physiotherapist revealed he could walk only short distances with a stick, and didn’t have his own toilet. Squatting was impossible. We immediately organised a toilet chair and crutches and later helped his family build a toilet. We referred him back to Anandaban Hospital, but due to an outbreak of COVID he was sent home without treatment. He became more depressed and was so desperate to get rid of the smell and pain in his leg that he was ready to have his leg cut off if it stopped his suffering. Then, in March 2022, the CBR programme arranged for him to be assessed during a visit by orthopaedic surgeon Mr Lars Hübschle from Norway. He underwent radical surgery to remove the dead and infected bone. There was no guarantee that his leg would be saved, but wonderfully, he didn’t need it amputated. He received a special knee brace to support his leg and a long course of antibiotics. Surgery and treatment was made free of cost through OCH fundraising. Six months on, he has no pus discharge and can walk up to two hours, slowly, on crutches. His gratitude towards the CBR programme and Mr Lars is huge. He says, “thank you for saving my life. If you had not come and helped me, my rotting leg would have killed me.”
OCH CBR Advisor and Physiotherapist.