Rs 35 lakh, 4 hospitals, 104 days & counting


Before you take off your mask or let your guard down, think of this woman’s ordeal to save her mother

Last year, exactly around Christmas, Daniya Sarkar, her 16-year-old brother and her mother Rina Mukerjee, 47 were enjoying the Christmas season with Santa hats and good food and laughter. Exactly a year later, Sarkar is tired, weary and in deep debt. Her mother contracted covid in September and has since spent over 100 days in hospital. She is still in hospital, hooked up to an oxygen cylinder; she suffered lung fibrosis while recovering from covid.

Twenty-nine-year-old Sarkar, an employee with a finance service company, says “My mother, a journalist, was sick for a few days before she was diagnosed with covid. We admitted her on September 8. The hospital did not have very good facilities and she did not get enough oxygen due to which her health started deteriorating. We paid Rs 2.5 lakh and settled the bill for a six-day stay. At the same time, my brother also turned covid positive and was admitted in a government hospital. Since he was asymptomatic, he recovered soon. But my mother had to be admitted to another hospital which had better facilities. This time the bill came up to Rs 5.5 lakh and I had to sell my mother’s gold and silver articles to clear the bills. I was not aware that I could have availed free treatment through the government.”

However, Sarkar’s troubles didn’t end there. Although her mother tested negative for covid on September 23, her condition worsened. “The doctors informed us that she had lung fibrosis and had to be shifted to another hospital which had a ventilator facility. I admitted her to Sakra Hospital on September 24. She was kept on a ventilator in the ICU for a couple of days and the bill came up to almost Rs 1 lakh per day. So we rented out a ventilator on our own and took treatment from the hospital. Our first bill was Rs 11.65 lakh (for stay and treatment from Sept 24 to Oct 9) and I had to borrow money from family and friends to clear it. We managed to get insurance and continued treatment.”

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Sarkar says her mother spent 80 days in the same hospital and their bill came up to Rs 25.27 lakh which they were asked to clear immediately if they wanted to continue further treatment. She managed to pay Rs 5 lakh and Rs 10 lakh from her insurance and Sakra Hospital then waived off the remaining amount.

(The second time in hospital) the bill came up to Rs 5.5 lakh and I had to sell my mother’s gold and silver articles to clear it. I was not aware of the free treatment through govt schemes

— Daniya Sarkar

Harassment on social media

When Sarkar needed money, she put up a post on her social media asking for help. Though some people helped, there were others who messaged her privately and asked for sexual favours in return for money, she says. Desperate for money, she took loans from online apps and soon was being harassed by their agents, she says.

After her four-month ordeal, Sarkar says her mother was careful and had not stepped out. She thinks she may have caught the infection from her brother who would often go out to play.

Sarkar has managed to clear a few bills, with help from an NGO and the Marathahalli police who helped her to get a waiver from the hospital for about 10 lakh.

A spokesperson from Sakra said that Rina had several health complications and pneumonia too. “Due to covid, her lungs were severely damaged and she had to be on a ventilator. That’s why they had run up such high medical bills.”

Her mother is still in hospital and needs to be there for a few more days. Sarkar hopes this will be the last time she is in a hospital.



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Sagar Biswas

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