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A cancer survivor with crutches, Dr Rahul Jain is beacon of hope for Covid-19 patients

On 3 January 2004, he underwent a surgery and was advised bedrest for months and joined work a year later.

SUBHENDU MAITI | Kolkata |

He has defeated cancer and works from 11 am till 2 am throughout the week with an amputated left leg. Dr Rahul Jain, 45, an internal medicine expert and diabetologist at Belle Vue Clinic, has unflinchingly been toiling to treat severe and moderate Covid-19 patients for the past 15 months including this correspondent. With crutches since 2004, which he claims has become his “trademark”, Jain recalled when he was confined to bed after his amputation 18 years ago. He was diagnosed with osteosarcoma of left knee.

“I was bed-ridden for six months for treatment with series of chemotherapy. I couldn’t attend any patients for more than a year. I don’t have a left leg technically because of amputation surgery,” said Dr Jain.

It was tormenting for a person who cherished going on long walks. “That was a very difficult time. At times I thought of changing my profession since I couldn’t even get up from bed. My family, especially my wife, stood by me like a rock,” he told this correspondent while attending Covid patients on oxygen support system at BVC during midnight. In 2003, Dr Jain had a slight knee pain which, within a week, grew too intense to walk. An X-ray revealed a tumour in his left femur and Dr Jain was almost sure of a cancer diagnosis. His worst fears were confirmed after family doctor Naseer Iqbal referred him to Shaikh Hassan Iqbal, an orthopaedic surgeon.

“I was left with two options-limb salvage or amputation. I opted for the latter,” he said, adding that both doctors were godsend who always encouraged them.

On 3 January 2004, he underwent a surgery and was advised bedrest for months and joined work a year later. The BVC authorities gave him his first break in 2005. The next year he became the first doctor to detect an outbreak of Chikungunya in the city after 35 years.

“A college student came to me with fever. When I wrote Chikungunya on his prescription, even the staff at Belle Vue didn’t know what it was. In the following three-four months, several cases were diagnosed,” he recalled.

“Cancer is a dreadful disease. I am a doctor but it still scares me. But when I speak to my patients, there’s a sense of fulfilment. As doctors we don’t have control over a patient’s destiny but with the knowledge I have gathered I am empowered to help. There can’t be a greater incentive than easing someone’s pain,” he said. “Sometimes I become upset when I can’t save the life of a few critically ill Covid patients or hear my relatives succumb to coronavirus. I have attended around 4,000 Covid-positive patients so far since April in 2020. Over 95 to 97 per cent of them are Covid survivors and this is my inspiration,” he added.