By Bilal Kuchay
A woman was able to finally sit down at last after 32 years after undergoing a routine but a life-changing surgery in India.
Gulnora Rapikhova, 37, from Sirdarya in Uzbekistan, was five years old when her clothes accidentally caught fire from the heating stove at her home
She immediately rushed to her mother for help but by the time she reached her, she had been severely burnt on her lower back down to her thighs.
Gulnora was immediately taken to a hospital and spent a total of a year and a half hospitalised, undergoing five major surgeries on her wounds but they didn’t heal.
She would tape a clean towel over her chronic wounds under her clothes every day so it soaked up the pus and blood but because of this could never sit and spent her life walking or lying down.
Even at school, she had to study either standing or lying down.
Gulnora said: “I lived a very painful life since an early age. I don’t have words to explain what I went through.
“I had to spent 32 years standing or lying down due to severe burns on my lower back down to the thighs.
“I attended school but I had to either stand or lie down during my classes.
“I couldn’t play in my childhood and would watch my brothers and sisters playing outside the house, from a distance. It was so painful.”
“When the pain would become unbearable, painkillers were the only option.”
Gulnora’s life changed six months ago when she met an Indian doctor, Dr Shahin Nooreyezdan, at a free medical camp in her home town.
Dr Shahin Nooreyezdan, senior consultant plastic and cosmetic surgery at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals in New Delhi, said: “When I first met Gulnora, I got the shock of my life.
“When I asked her to sit down, she refused. I thought she was being formal, so I told her again to please sit down.
“But she said she can’t sit. I was shocked to hear when she told me she hadn’t sat for last 32 years.”
Dr Shanin immediately examined Gulnora and was stunned to see big wounds on her lower back and thighs.
He added: “When we examined her, she had these big wounds on her buttocks, on her back and on the back of her thighs with pus cells.
“I couldn’t believe how can someone live like this for 32-years. I still can’t imagine how was she living all these years, doing everything standing.”
Gulnora needed surgery but her parents, who own a small shop, did not have the money.
A philanthropist in Tashkent, who happen to be Dr. Shanin’s friend, funded her trip to India.
Gulnora accompanied by her elder sister, Diloram Attayeva, took her first flight – standing and lying down on the two-hour flight – from Tashkent to New Delhi on May 26.
On May 30th, she underwent a two and a half-hour long successful surgery at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals.
Dr Shahin added: “Any wound which is more than 10 to 15 years old tend to develop into skin cancers.
“So the first thing we had to do was to exclude skin cancers and for that we had to take biopsies from various sides. Once we found from biopsies there was no cancer related tissue, we decided to operate her.
“The operation was not challenging at all. It was just as routine operation.
“We just took skin grafts from her lower legs to cover her wounds.
“The operation was completed in just two and half hours. It was not complicating at all.
“I have done nothing great. For me the story was all about her struggle.”
On Wednesday, July 4, Gulnora sat on for the first time on a sofa.
A hospital attendant who wished not to be named said: “She couldn’t sit when the doctor asked her to do so as her wounds have healed now. It took her almost 10 minutes to sit. She broke down when she sat on the sofa.
Gulnora is excited that she will be travelling back to her home, with her wounds treated.
She said: “Now, my wish is to get married and have kids.”