NEW DELHI: On Friday, Manjunath Kalmani received a special visitor at his bedside at the Safdarjung Hospital’s intensive care unit.
After reading the paralysed techie’s story in TOI, 33-year-old Australian Perry Cross, who too suffered a similar injury 14 years ago, and is paralysed neck down, decided to meet Manjunath to given him hope and boost his morale.
It was an emotional meeting. Perry recounted his post-injury days in hospital and Manjunath saw a glimmer of hope. In April 1994, Perry suffered a C2 level spinal cord injury during a football match back home. After spending more than a year in hospital, Perry was rehabilitated with the help of latest technology and good nursing assistance.
Today, he travels around the world to deliver inspirational lectures, giving hope to people, especially those who have suffered spinal cord injury.
“After I read about Manjunath, I just wanted to meet him. I know exactly what he is going through. I have fought my Disability and today I’m in a much better condition,” said Perry, who is undergoing stem cell treatment in Delhi.
At 4.30 pm, Perry rolled in his motorised wheelchair into Manjunath’s room. During their 10 minute long meeting, Perry told Manjunath about his accident and how he has been on his own for more than 10 years. “I want you to know that you can get better and can lead a normal life like me. It is not impossible,” Perry said.
Perry uses a chin-controlled customized wheelchair with a portable Ventilator. With the help of his chin, Perry can rotate, move and control the speed of his wheelchair. He is in Delhi for three months and has customized his apartment as per his needs.
“Perry sleeps on a special mattress and has a special wheelchair in the bathroom. We have renovated the house as per his needs,” said Peter Hutchinson, a care giver who has been with Perry for the past seven years.
“Manjunath is really happy. After meeting Perry he is confident that he too can lead an almost normal life,” said Sudhakar, Manjunath’s brother, who was briefed by Perry about the latest technology available.
Perry’s entire customized set-up costs approximately $75,000. His wheelchair and portable ventilator alone costs $30,000 each.
His speech restricted by the ventilator, Manjunath nevertheless managed to tell Perry how happy he was to meet him. Perry in turn promised to keep in touch on email. Following the meeting, Perry told TOI, “I thank God for the condition I’m in. He too will recover soon, but needs more care. I understand what he is going through. One has to ensure that he doesn’t get any bedsores and he immediately needs a mattress, which helps in preventing bedsores.”
Extending a helping hand, Perry told Manjunath, “I can help you in your Rehabilitation. I can teach you how to speak comfortably.” Before leaving the room, Perry said, “I wish to see you on a similar wheelchair soon.”