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Don’t dive like me, pleads paralysed Ahmed

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PESHAWAR: Nineteen-year-old Ijaz Ahmed will pass his remaining life as a completely dependent person after he dived into a pond to escape a hot summer day last year on October 13.

Ahmed is being treated at the Hayatabad Paraplegic Centre after suffering a spinal injury following the fatal dive that left his whole body paralysed, leaving him no chance to pass his life like a normal human being. “He will be dependent on others for the rest of his life,” said Dr Abdul Qayyum Afridi, the centre’s spinal cord injury specialist, as the lack of movement is weakening Ahmed and his fragile body is testament to the fact.

In summers, the rise in the mercury is followed by an equal increase in people diving into canals to cool off. Numerous people can be witnessed diving straight into the water, which at times ends in tragedy as their heads collide with the concrete floor of the canals or water reservoirs, causing severe damage to the spinal cord.

“It was Friday and the day was very hot. I went to the pond to cool myself before saying my Friday prayers and dived straight into the water after taking my shirt off. The moment I dived, my head collided with the pond’s concrete floor. Moments after, everything looked dark around me as if I was losing consciousness. Then I don’t know what happened before I found myself at a hospital bed,” said Ahmed. Dr Afridi said the situation was worrisome as a large number of people came to such places in the summer, but the authorities had made no plans to inform divers that even the slightest irresponsibility could cause them severe spinal cord injuries and can make the rest of their lives dependent. “There is no such awareness campaign at any place, even Lahore’s Canal Road, where hundreds of people, including men, women and young boys, dive. Even if you hit your head against the clay-made canal floor, you can injure your spinal cord,” he said. The Hayatabad Paraplegic Centre is the only state-of-the-art facility in the whole country where patients with spinal cord injuries are specially treated.

Since there are only 60 beds available and on average a patient stays for around three to five months, a patient can be put on a waiting list to get a bed. “This is true, but fresh cases are given priority,” said Dr Afridi as an employee began serving patients with free meals. Ahmed wants to take a bath but hates diving, saying, “Don’t dive like me, otherwise, u can suffer like me.”

By Iqbal Khattak

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