By Taniya Dutta
An Indian girl whose bones have fractured over 14 times is waiting for the day when she could stand on her feet.
Laxmi, 9, from Barmer in Rajasthan in northern India suffers from Osteogenesis Imperfecta commonly known as Brittle Bone Disease.
The girl has never been able to stand and depends on her parents for simple tasks as using the toilet.
Laxmi has spent all her life without moving her legs, confined to her cot playing all alone.
“I see other children playing and going to school but I stay at home all day. I cannot sit for very long hours and need assistance.
“I get tired of sleeping and sitting at the same place whole day. I wonder why I cannot run and walk like other children,” says the girl.
Laxmi was only two months old when the bone on her right foot had fractured and by the time she turned nine, she suffered 14 subsequent fractures.
For six years her poor father, Kantilal Joshi visited a number of hospitals including private, expensive ones in several cities in a desperate search for the right treatment but every time he was sent home saying there is no cure availabale for Laxmi.
He had even borrowed £ 6900 as loan from his friends and relatives for Laxmi’s treatment but stopped when he ran out of money.
“I am still under the loan of 6 lakh rupees and I do not know how and when can I repay the heavy amount.
“She cries asking why she is not like other kids. I did not abandon my child. Wherever friends told me to take her, I took her. Whether it was a big city or neighbouring states I did not give up.
“But all we were told is that there is no treatment available for her condition,” said the devastated father, who makes just £92 a month by working at a shop.
With no treatment, Laxmi’s condition has increasingly worsened. Her upper body has completely bent and her legs have changed the shape.
Her bones are so delicate that even the slightest of touch can lead to the fracture of her bones.
Because of this, the poor girl has further been shunned by the villagers in fear of harming her.
Kantilal said: “She is like a glass doll. She is extremely delicate.
“Her bones can break anytime. Once her bone fractured while playing carom.
“The villagers do not come close or let her children play with Laxmi because even the slightest of touch can break her bones and they fear of breaking her bones. .
“My daughter lives a lonely life.
“To keep her engaged I got a dog-Jigar for her to play with. He is the only friend she has other than her two year old sister.”
After her story made in local newspapers, the administration helped her get enrolled into a government-run school but Laxmi could never go to school as she needed someone to drop and pick her up.
“His mother is weak and fears of carrying her. She also has to take care of our second daughter who is only two years old.
“I put her at one place in the morning and my wife Yashoda looks after her. She is only moved o the other place once I am back from work.
“It was not possible for us to drop and pick her up from school everyday. We were helpless and had to stop her studies. But she reads her sister’s books.”
A Mumbai-based doctor has shown interest in treating Laxmi’s case but says that could take time and require lot of money.
Dr Rajesh Panchal, Peadiatric Orthopedic says: “She suffers from Osteogenesis Imperfecta, a condition in which children have the tendency of fracturing the bones.
“We have handled similar cases in the past and there is a high success ratio.
“What we do is we put the patient on calcium supplements until their bones are strong enough for a surgery.
“In Laxmi’s case, she has multiple fractures and deformities and would require at least three sittings of injections over three months and then only we can ascertain if her bones are strong for the surgery.
“The whole procedure can last up to a year.”
But for the parents, they are still uncertain about the treatment as it is expensive. Each injection would cost £46 and the surgery can cost up too a lakh.
Kantilal said: “We are relived that after so many years at least one doctor has given us ray of hope but we have no money to afford the treatment.
“If there is help from the government she could get the surgery and eventually live a happy life like other children.”