Days following the catastrophic quake of 25 April, hospitals in Nepal are filled beyond their capacity to treat casualties and the injured of varying degrees.
Two hospitals, the Bir Hospital (NAMS, National Academy of Medical Sciences) and the Teaching Hospital (Tribhuvan University’s non-profitable hospital), both situated in Kathmandu, are the two main hospitals treating and tending to the injured.
Families, relatives, friends of the patients and lightly injured people occupy benches and corners of every floor in the hospital. The long corridors on the first floor house the male and female surgical wards, and the post-operation theatre. Inside the female surgical ward in room number 211, bed A, was the 19-year-old Ishvar Subedi from Dolakha district, 133 kilometres east of Kathmandu. A nurse brought a portable X-ray machine into the room and was trying to place the film plate underneath Ishvar’s back. I offered help, holding his right hand I lifted him slightly. As she placed the 11-by-14 plate in position, the nurse tells me that his left arm is shattered. She asks me to move back, both of us step out and she pushes the trigger to begin the exposure. We go back in. This time Ishvar is in pain and insists on holding my arm as the nurse brings the exposed X-ray plate out. I leave Ishvar to rest and the nurse to tend to others.
On 1 May, 2015, two days later, I went back to check on Ishvar. I was informed that he has been shifted to the post-operation theatre. The nurse in the female surgical ward tells me that he was discharging cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from his ears and was scheduled to be operated.
At the post operation ward I saw Ishvar sleeping on a thick pad of cotton and gauze underneath his head. I met Dr Harmeet Gulati, who was getting ready to leave home. He stays back to tell me about Ishvar’s condition, explaining that his left arm was operated yesterday but his skull is still severely fractured. The yellow fluid coming out of his ears is the result of an infection that has developed inside.
Ishvar’s records indicate that he was brought into the hospital on 27 April by a volunteer from Gyaneshwar, Kathmandu, where he worked as an errand boy. On probing by the other doctors present, Ishvar tells us that his father’s name is Nila Bahadur Subedi and works in a security agency in Qatar; he does not remember his mother’s name. He says his younger brother’s name is Umesh Subedi, a class 10 student at Shanti Adarsh Higher Secondary School, a couple of kilometres away from his house in Singadi village, in Dolakha. He doesn’t remember most of people and contact numbers. Dr Gulati says his condition is serious but he can be saved, adding it would be easier to take things forward if someone from his family was present.
We got in touch with the police to help locate his family or relatives but without success.
~Rudra Rakshit is a freelance photographer and writer based in Bangalore.
~‘Notes from the field’ is a reporting initiative, where we bring stories of the people and places that have been affected by the April 2015 earthquake in Nepal.