Cancer Tales: Chapter 4: The Nexus of Charity

© Dr Sujeet Kumar

Sir, Pappu ji will arrange 4 units of blood and 4 platelet donors. He was very sure about it.
Dr Ankit: Ok, then we can admit your son for further chemotherapy but you need to arrange more blood donors and it wouldn’t suffice.
Sir, if you will talk to Pappu ji, he can arrange more donors.
Dr Ankit: Ok, I will explain him the need of blood units. Please give me his mobile number
Sir, you must be having his number (the patients father seemed surprised and said this with a animated smile)
Dr Ankit: (in a equally animated manner) how do I know your relative and how i am supposed to have his number ?
Sir, he said he knows you and he is the one who arranges blood donor for most of your patients who are unable to arrange on their own through his NGO.
Dr Ankit: I don’t know who he is but if his NGO does so, they are doing very good job of charity.
Charity !! (exclaimed the father)
Dr Ankit: Isn’t he?
Yes sir he is (father replied quickly but the reply wasn’t spontaneous)
Dr Ankit: ok leave it, i have more important things to do for now. I won’t be talking to him but i can give you a letter stating your blood requirements during this admission. May be it would help you.
Ok sir, no issues, that should work.
Ankit deep into his mind wanted to now what sort of dedication it would need for people in these NGOs to arrange blood donors for these poor souls who come for treatment from far away places and are unable to arrange blood donors for red blood or platelet. These blood units are a absolute necessity for anybody undergoing chemotherapy for blood cancers. Without these NGO the blood donor arrangements would be so difficult for many people.
While his mind was thinking his legs were moving swiftly. Once he reached his OPD room and settled himself on his chair, he looked upwards towards ceiling to see whether fan was moving or not.
OPD attendant observes a few sweat drops over Ankit’s forehead and temples. This makes him switch on the fan. After a pause (pause of few seconds only) he asked: should i start calling patients or should i wait for sometime to let your sweat dry up.
No, start calling them… 401
Someone interrupts them form from behind, entering from rooms entrance.
Good morning sir, i am a staff here in radiotherapy and one of my relative has low platelet count so wanted to consult you. (By now he made a round around Ankit’s chair and was now standing in front of the table)
Ankit tilts his head upwards to see a familiar face in conversation with him.
Ankit spoke while trying to recognize him: submit his file on counter and by process it will reach me through counter and tell your relative to wait outside in waiting area. I will try to call them earlier and attend them.
With discontent hidden behind a smiling face, the man spoke: sir please see him now then only i will be free from here and will be able to attend my duties. You must be knowing how busy radiotherapy OPDs are. I manage files there.
Ankit was still looking on his face and trying to process audio visual inputs from the man and recognize him. He recalled and asked: I think I have seen you in this OPD many times now. You seem to have helped many patients of your locality by getting early appointments for them. It’s good to be your relative, isn’t it ….(after a pause) and equally bad to not be your relative (smiles)
Sir I just help any one who seeks help from me. May be god has assigned me for this work.
As he finished speaking both ankit and the staff exchanged smile (as a sense of understanding each other) but at the same time, on the OPD door stood a 60 year old ex army man working as OPD attendant with a face full of disgust.
Ankit noticed it but overlooked it as general feeling of overwork in this age and said: please call 401 and after that call this patient (transfers file from the staffs hand to OPD attendant).
Thank you sir for your help (the staff left the OPD)
Once he made sure that the staff had left, the OPD attendant spoke: sir, he doesn’t appear a nice man to me. I sense some thing fishy here as he keeps coming to our OPD with pretext of someone who he introduces as his relative. I agree, “one can have have good heart but i am sure no one has so many relatives suffering from blood disorders”. I advice you to be careful with him….continued the old and experienced ex army man.
Ankit replied: “May be he has a good heart and that many relatives with blood disorder as well” while saying this Ankit realized, what if this old man is true?
Ankit takes the OPD file from his hand and places it beneath all other patient record files. Let’s call by usual number then 401..402..403… and so on and he smiled at him.
The old man smiled back and said, let the worm creep out of earth (the disgust was gone and smile was back on his face as if he wasn’t tired, he wasn’t overworked and he wasn’t unhappy)
When all but one files were done, it was already 5 pm.
Sir the “relatives file” is left to be seen, the “relative of a good hearted man”. While saying this, the old man called upon the last patient as energetically as he calls them at 9 AM.
Two middle aged tired appearing men with disappointment on face and loopy body appeared on his call and one of them sat on the patients chair in front of Ankit (none of them seemed to be in hurry).
Ankit asked, where is your relative from this hospital ?
The man who was standing besides the patient was about to say something when the patient grabbed his hands and started saying himself: Sir, he is busy that’s why he could not come now with us in OPD.
Ankit (with a volume 1 level up than usual): Look i need to explain you one or two things. You will be anyways seen by me as officially your number has come but you need to tell me the truth. We know what has happened with you so better tell us the truth (age old trick to fish in things by appearing to know the matter but in reality you have no idea).
The man standing beside the patient started saying (he wasn’t stopped this time by the patient): sir last night that man came to us while we were standing in line and said guaranteed 1st no in morning OPD for 2000 rupees. When we asked why so much then he said 50% of this goes to doctor, 25% to the OPD attendant and only 25% will remain with him ie 500 rupees. We thought there is no point waiting in this line for 4-5 hours and again waiting for turn in OPDs for another 4-5 hours so we went ahead with this plan.
Ankit was astonished with this revelation (he closed his eyes, dropped his head down and cleared the hair from his forehead)
The old man “old ex army man” stood validated. He wasn’t astonished but his chest appeared swollen, swollen with pride.
(Seconds of pin drop silence in that room with 4 people ensued after this)
Ok u must be having his number, call him please, Ankit asked them.
Both the men simultaneously replied “his mobile is switched off since afternoon”.
One of them continued: We are trying to call him since 11 am as he had promised us no 401 but already 420 had crossed and we weren’t called. He has vanished from here.
Ankit attended that patient and solved his disease related query, prescribed medicines and while sending them said, if you had not done that you could have been free earlier. Hope you don’t do this mistake again.
They both nodded their head in unison and left OPD room saying, Thank you sir.
Now the room had two people the young doctor and old attendant. Old man asked if he could crack a joke ? With Ankit’s affirmative head nod he said “you just lost 1000 rupees and I suffered a loss of 500 rupees”
Yes you are right, over all these days, we were earning a lot without our knowledge !!
Both of them had a smile on face and a sense of satisfaction deep in their hearts.
Both of them left OPD that day but after some days they got the information that he was not even staff in that hospital. He was just an outsider running this nexus. After this discovery Ankit always maintained some degree of suspicion on so called act of charity but he made one thing clear to his mind. As in jurisprudence it is a dictum that “let a hundred guilty be acquitted, but one innocent should not be convicted” similarly in medicine “not a single needy patient should be barred from receiving help, let hundreds get off the hook of their wrongdoings”.
He now knows that for a single SDP unit donation some times a patient pays nothing but many a times he pays anywhere between 5000-8000 rupees to a unrelated paid donor. The good and the bad coexist in society and they are so interlinked sometimes that if you crackdown on bad, the “good” suffers. He keeps himself vigilant so that some day he doesn’t get trapped in this “The Nexus of Charity”