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Gritty siblings convert car into ‘Covid ward’ for mom

LUCKNOW: This brother-sister duo had never imagined that they would spend four nights in a car, bundled up in the front two seats, with their Covid-19 positive mother, requiring dialysis, in the back seat and her oxygen cylinder lying in the trunk of the car – and all this, 240 kilometres away from home.
Sounds unbelievable, but this is how the human triumphs against all odds. Their mother got a bed on the fifth day and took five more days to stabilise.
The family took her home thereafter, but the siblings spent 10 days in their vehicle in the hospital’s parking lot. During which period, one of them also contracted infection.
On April 20, Payal Singh (25) and her brother Akash (23) drove to Lucknow from Lakhimpur Kheri for their mother’s dialysis.
They were supposed to return the same day, the practice they had been following for several years.
However, their mother, Parul Singh (45) developed fever that day and the hospital where they used to take her for dialysis regularly asked for an RT-PCR Covid test report.
“We gave her samples for the test but since she was a suspected case of Covid-19, we had no other option but to spend the night in our car in the hospital’s parking lot and bought food from local joints. Going to any relative’s place or hotel would have exposed them to infection,” said Payal, while narrating how the hope to get some assistance in the next hour kept them in Lucknow all through.
The next day, Parul’s test report came positive, leaving the family in a precarious situation. As the regular hospital refused to conduct dialysis, the siblings with the help of friends, found a private hospital that agreed to perform the procedure but cancelled it later when Parul’s oxygen level started dropping.
“There was no oxygen-supported bed in the hospital. Going back to Lakhimpur or any adjoining district was not an option. We frantically called helplines but nothing worked. However, through a contact, we got five small oxygen cans for Rs 1,300 that lasted for only a few minutes,” Payal recalled.
However, the family stay back in Lucknow on April 22, hoping for a better situation. The hospital agreed to conduct dialysis as Parul’s oxygen level improved a bit.
Though the dialysis was done, the issue of hospitalisation for Covid-19 treatment remained unsolved.
“To maintain her oxygen levels, we made mother her lie in prone position on the backseat and spent another night in the car, simultaneously searching for oxygen cylinder. Help came on April 23 when my father brought a cylinder from Lakhimpur in a hired car. We put her on oxygen support in the car itself and sent our father home to protect him from infection,” she said.
However, the oxygen cylinder brought temporary relief. The siblings continued to hunt for an oxygen-supported bed in hospitals but nothing materialised and April 23 was also spent in the car.
“We made hundreds of distressed calls during this period – one brought hope, another ended in disappointment. Since all well-wishers kept trying for bed and motivated us all along, we pushed on. My mother also showed exemplary determination. Finally, on April 24, my mother got a bed in RMLIMS. After her condition stabilised, she was discharged on April 30,” she said.
With mom & bro infected, girl fights back: The siblings had just masks and gloves to protect themselves all through the ordeal. On April 22, Akash developed mild systems and tested Covid-19 positive. While the brother remained isolated in the car, Payal had to arrange everything from medicines to food and finances. She also took medication as a precautionary measure.
“We had only Rs 12,000 when we reached Lucknow and had to ask our father to transfer more money. All this while, we used public toilets and sanitised seats with sanitiser spray after usage,” said Payal.

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