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Not all new parents are destined to celebrate the birth of their firstborn with zest and spirit. When K Shiva and his wife Sai Priya became the father and mother of a baby girl on April 18 this year, they barely stopped to smile and send the news out to family and friends. The birth was severely premature, with the baby born at seven months with several neonatal complications. Immediately, the pediatrician put her on the ventilator. A month later, Shiva and Priya's baby is still at the Little Star Children's Hospital in Hyderabad. She is only a little bigger, and her weight has not increased significantly. The baby looks very pale and she cries often from a pain she cannot describe.
Sai Priya's troubles with health began even before the baby was born. She was not keeping well. One night, she had so much trouble breathing that Shiva, then an Aircel employee, rushed her to a local hospital. Doctors advised her to have the baby before term through a C-section surgery; otherwise, they said, mother and child would both be in danger.
After the baby was born, Priya recovered relatively quickly from the operation and the troubling symptoms she was going through. In the next two weeks, her physical discomfort vanished. But she worried about her baby. The baby had not yet been breastfed, and was covered in tubes and needles under the ventilator. She was thin and cried every time she was touched.
Hospital bills kept mounting. When Shiva and Priya were sure that their worry over their newborn's condition could not make their misery worse, Shiva lost his job. He had been earning about Rs. 15,000 a month, a sum enough to take care of all wants and needs of their little family, but not nearly enough to set aside a fund for emergencies. Indeed, Shiva says, they had never foreseen that there might be an emergency to take them by surprise, much less a calamity that would involve the health, the life, of their baby.
To pay for the treatment that the baby is receiving, Shiva has borrowed heavily from friends and relatives. When the hospital presented a bill of Rs. 4.5 lakhs in May, he had to sell his ancestral gold jewelry to raise the amount. Neither Shiva nor Priya have an iota of regret about losing their possessions. "Our baby has to come home soon, and everything else is secondary to that," Priya says without a quiver in her voice.
It will cost another Rs. 8 lakhs in treatment costs for the baby to recover.
This is a desperate time for Shiva and Priya. They have no money to pay for their baby's treatment, and no source of income. Raising Rs. 8 lakhs will be an impossibility unless a magic panacea appears.
If you would like to help Shiva raise money for his daughter's treatment, you can do so by contributing to his fundraiser here and by sharing this story on Facebook and Whatsapp.