BHOPAL: Only doctors know what pain and death are. Doctors die, of course, but not like the rest of us. They know what is going to happen. Thus, they can endure the agony with ecstasy.
Renowned cardiologist of Itarsi Dr Natwar Lal Heda was no exception. As a doctor he was well-versed with human anatomy and with how a body is infected. Yet, he did not know when the stealthy coronavirus had crept into his body to consume his life.
Despite being afflicted with the virus, he never refused to treat a patient. His nephew, Navneet, says Dr Heda fell ill on March 24 last year. He was home-quarantined on April 7, since the regular bouts of fever and of coughing indicated that he had been afflicted with the virus. As his condition began to deteriorate in home-quarantine, he was rushed to a hospital in Bhopal. The X-ray report of his chest was normal, although his fever was out of control. He was then admitted to AIIMS, Bhopal.
Navneet says that, before Dr Heda was afflicted with the disease he had a long list of patients in Itarsi. Despite the lockdown and curfew to arrest the killer disease, people continued to flock to his clinic. The true doctor that Heda was, he never refused to treat them. As he was treating patients, he was oblivious of the corona pandemic. For him, his patients’ lives was more important his own.
He did not listen to the advice of his family. In March, a group of Jaamati had come from Jakarta to Itarsi. A man, who had met a Jaamati, got ill. He came to Dr Heda. Yes, he treated him. And, in the process, the creepy virus struck him. In the meantime, his wife, Asha Heda, was infected with the virus. She was also admitted to the AIIMS. Both of them were battling against the disease.
The days rolled by. Rather than improving, the condition of Dr Heda who saved many a life continued to worsen. His son, Dr Piyush Heda, is a dentist in Canada.
He was stuck in that country as the virus was blazing through the world consuming millions of lives. Dr Piyush could not come to Bhopal to be with his parents. Similarly, his daughter, Priya, a software engineer, was in Pune. She, too, was stranded there. The borders of all the states were sealed.
Asha says, “My husband was kept in the ICU of AIIMS and left alone. He didn’t get proper food.” She says she was allowed to give Dr Heda home-made food only after her repeated requests. By then, she was cured of the disease. As Dr Heda’s condition was worsening, each day weighed heavy on Asha. She was only praying for her husband’s speedy recovery.
Shock and loneliness engulfed Dr Heda in the hospital. The man who was always surrounded by many people was alone in the hospital. Struggling between life and death for nearly a month, Dr Heda breathed his last on April 24. His children took part in the last rites through video-calling.
Asha says she has decided to donate all the books of medical science of Dr Heda to Khandwa Medical College. She says, “The death of Dr Heda has taught us a lesson that the virus is really deadly.” He had no co-morbidity — neither blood pressure, nor diabetes. She says people should not lower their guard against the virus. They should wear visors to keep the disease at bay.
The mortal remains of Dr Heda were consigned to flames at Bhadbhada crematorium. A shattered Asha says she returned from the hospital, but failed to bring him back from there. He will remain among all those who serve humanity!