Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Recently in Junagarh Civil Hospital near Ahmedabad, 23 thalassemic children receiving regular blood transfusions tested positive for HIV. Patients suffering from thalassemia receive free treatment at government-run hospitals and usually require transfusions once or twice a week. The recent case in this particular hospital has brought to the fore the outdated screening methods for the blood used, and the threatening possibility of the negligence being far more widespread than ostensible. There is an inquiry underway at the hospital which should submit a report to the hospital authorities within a stipulated time-frame.

But the truth of the matter goes so much deeper than the negligence at stake here. 23 lives have been unalterably changed forever, with no recourse to 'justice' of any sort. What can one expect? Even if the departmental inquiries yield some result, the lives of these individuals will never be the same again. They are necessarily now compromised forever. To know that your life is predicated hereafter on a vulnerability you cannot help and cannot control is something beyond one's imagination. The finality of this disease, this vulnerability will weigh on their lives, and it will weigh on them heavily because they will remember it as something that came upon them without their agency, as a fait accompli. 'Fate' is such an amorphous concept, but how deadly, how inclement, how merciless it can be in imposing conditions of death on lives that are yet to be lived.

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