Weekend visits

Real Page Three

Every weekend, volunteers of DNipCare, a palliative care group, visit people in pain. They don't claim a cure, only a little comfort

What are you doing this Sunday? Would you like to drive up to a hospice, next door to Safdarjung Hospital, and meet Rajesh Bhakt, a 19-year-old terminally ill cancer patient? He wants to watch a movie "Lord of the Rings," he said the last time his friends visited him. These "friends" are people who drop in unannounced and chat, well past the visiting hours, about computers, the movies he likes and the books he wants to read. Like they did last Tuesday.

Bhakt had just finished watching 3 Idiots. What next? What next? Bhakt knew the bone cancer in his right leg was spreading fast. He stared at his bandaged leg and then suddenly looked up, smiled and said he could watch Spiderman 3.

"Just tell us what you want to watch and we'll bring it for you," said K V Hamza who works in the Finance Ministry and is general secretary of DNipCare, the Delhiites' National Initiative in Palliative Care. "And we'll get the laptop too," said Ajith Kumar, a DNipCare volunteer who works with a Central government ministry.

Bhakt smiled. Standing next to Bhakt's bed, his mother smiled, looking at her son, so full of life.

Medical care in India, and much of the world, is very rarely about comfort. It's not often that the doctor asks a terminally ill patient how she wants to spend her last days or if the needle pricks and bed sores hurt. Palliative care and organisations like DNipCare fill in this critical vacuum in medical care that of holding hands much after the worst has hit you.

DNipCare was the result of an idea that came up when Hamza came across a weekend feature on palliative care in the Malayala Manorama. That got him thinking and he and a few friends discussed the need to help terminally ill and bed-ridden patients. So DNipCare was set up on August 15, 2008, with A T Sainudin as president and 45 volunteers. It initially came together under the banner of the Kerala Muslim Welfare Association, Delhi, but branched out "since care can't be confined to any one community".

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