Road accidents shatter their dreams | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 01, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 01, 2010

Road accidents shatter their dreams

Alam, driver of a CNG-run three-wheeler, is undergoing treatment at the National Institute of Traumatology and Orthopaedic Rehabilitation in the city. He was injured when a bus hit his vehicle at Moghbazar in the city. Photo: STAR

Just three months ago Noor Alam was a driver of a CNG-run three-wheeler and was living happily with his wife and two little children. But now a bleak future awaits him as an accident caused severe injury to his legs and shattered all his dreams.
"At 30 I am struggling hard to live with dignity. I have no property in my village and no relatives except my aged mother. I never asked anyone for money. Will I have to do that now?" he asked.
Alam is living in Sweeper Colony for the last couple of years. He had been a tea seller and a rickshawpuller. He began driving an autorickshaw considering the future and education of his children.
But within a few months an accident left him bed-ridden with both his legs fractured.
Just a week before the Eid-ul-Fitr a speeding bus hit his CNG near Moghbazar level-crossing. He was admitted to the National Institute of Traumatology and Orthopaedic Rehabilitation (NITOR) with severe leg injuries.
Within two months all his savings were spent on treatment purpose and he had to return home without completing the treatment.
During a recent visit to his house, The Daily Star correspondent found Alam lying on a stinky bed in a six-foot-by-six-foot tin-shed room. Old newspapers were pasted on the tin walls to fill up cracks and breaches in a failed attempt to prevent rainwater from entering the room.
"The rent is Tk 1,500 per month. My wife Kamala now works as a domestic help and earns Tk 2,200 a month. The rent, food and my treatment costs are too high to manage with this small amount," said Alam who still needs medicine worth Tk 33 per day.
Asked whether he is getting medicine properly, Alam produced a faint smile. "Often it becomes irregular. There's little left for medicine after meeting other needs," he said.
"I do not know when and how I will be able to return to a normal life. I do not know what will happen to my wife, children and elderly mother," Alam had told this correspondent when she first met him at NITOR.
Asked why he didn't call her for help, Alam said he had to sell his cellphone to bear the treatment costs.
Alam nowadays doesn't bother much about his future. All his worries and anxieties are over the future of his family. His six-year old physically challenged son will not be able to get the expensive physiotherapy and his four-year old son is still immature to understand everything.
Doctors say if he gets proper treatment, it would take one month for his recovery.
"We don't know whether this poor man will be able to continue his treatment. He needs long-term treatment and physiotherapy to walk again," says Prof MA Samad, an orthopaedic surgeon.
The NITOR doctors say 90 percent of the patients who come with severe injuries are road accident victims. Of them, 50 percent return to normal life but the rest usually lose their limbs and live a crippled life.
At NITOR, Jahidul, a 27-year-old young garment worker, was receiving treatment for the injuries to both his hands after a road accident. His condition has much improved and doctors have asked him to try to walk slowly.
"I cannot go outside. Whenever I see buses, trucks and other vehicles I get frightened. Please take me to a place where there is no such vehicles," said Jahid, who has yet to recover from the shock.
He came to Dhaka with a dream to support his family, as his poor father did not earn enough money by cultivating land. But the road accident shattered his dreams of a better future.
"I need Tk 3,000 every day for buying injections. My father has already sold his cattle to manage my treatment cost," lamented Jahidul.
Like Alam and Jahidul, many of the road accident victims have lost their last resort and suddenly find themselves pauperised, thanks to the callous and careless driving by some unskilled people.
Hospital sources say 10 to 20 percent of the patients who come to NITOR die.
"Those who come with severe haemorrhage, vascular, chest and brain injuries more than one hour after the accident usually die. But most of the patients get well after long-term treatment, while many of the patients' limbs have to be amputated," said Dr Samad.
There are even some unfortunate families that lost two to three members in road accidents and could not come out of that trauma. But very few people actually know about them, he added.

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