AES makes this teen wage a grim battle beyond the boundary - Hindustan Times
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AES makes this teen wage a grim battle beyond the boundary

ByAbdul Jadid, Gorakhpur
Dec 02, 2019 10:52 PM IST

Until July last year, Ranjesh Gaud was a meritorious student who excelled in cricket and loved to amuse his friends with jokes.

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But, then fate took a cruel turn and the teenager was afflicted with Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) which, along with Japanese Encephalitis, accounts for innumerable deaths in east UP and those who manage to survive become physically or mentally disabled.

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His family failed to take a serious note of the symptoms, according to doctors. And his life, as indeed theirs, changed for the worse. Now, the 17-year-old lad suffers from 90% physical as well as mental disability.

Today, he can’t move, speak or feed himself. He has almost no awareness of what is happening around him.

Ranjesh is a resident of Mehri village in Gorakhpur district’s Bhathat block.

His family, which struggles to make ends meet, can hardly afford his treatment and is not even aware that the boy is eligible for government aid of Rs 100,000 (Rs 1 lakh) for disability due to AES.

On Monday, his family took him to the health camp that the health department and the non-government organisation (NGO) Pahal jointly organised at the Baba Raghav Das (BRD) Medical College centre in Gorakhpur.

Doctors examined physically challenged people at the camp and distributed assistive devices to them. Ranjesh was one of those who got a wheelchair at the camp but his mother struggled to seat him due to his unresponsive limbs.

His father Beg Lal Gaud, an auto-rickshaw driver, said, “I don’t know why this happened to us. A healthy and happy boy has suddenly became paralysed. Why did God punish us? What was our fault?”

The boy was studying in Class 8 and secured ‘very good marks’ in the half-yearly exam when he was diagnosed with AES following prolonged fever.

Despite undergoing treatment for six months at BRD Medical College, his condition did not improve.

Dr Rakesh Singh, assistant medical officer at Bhathat CHC who was present at the camp, said, “(Ranjesh) Gaud’s condition worsened apparently because of a delay in treatment and laxity by the family.”

Another doctor at the camp said there were negligible chances of his improvement and he would have to live the rest of his life in same condition as AES had damaged his brain and nervous system and the loss was irreparable.

Ranjesh’s neighbour Ankit Sharma said, “Besides Ranjesh Gaud, two children from the same village of Bhathat were diagnosed with AES, but they received treatment in time and are now doing well. The pond behind their homes and choked drains in the village are a breeding ground for mosquitoes,” he said.

While Ranjesh was unlucky, Santosh Mishra, resident of Gorakhpur’s Surajkund area, was not.

Mishra, now in his late 30s, also came to the camp. He was diagnosed with AES in 1997 at the age of 17. After prolonged treatment, first at BRD Medical College in Gorakhpur, and then at the Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGIMS) Lucknow, he is doing better than Ranjesh.

The only post-AES complications he suffers from are a regular and slight shaking of the head and partial immobility (he moves with the help of a walker).

Mishra, who is still under medication, went on to complete his education up to BA (IGNOU) and got married to a woman of his village.

His father Govind Mishra, said, “People would ask me as to who will look after my child after my death. So I decided to marry him off and luckily a girl was ready to marry him despite knowing his condition. The couple has a two- year-old daughter.”

Speaking about the aid to AES survivors, chief medical officer Srikant Tiwari said, “The fund for compensation is approved generally in March and the amount is distributed through camps every year. AES survivors with disability can contact for availing the benefit.”

There is a provision of Rs 1 lakh for disability due to AES.

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