A story of Strong Willpower and Incredible Courage – Dr. Prutha Desai

12 February 2017

Dr. Prutha Desai

It was 26th January 2001, our Republic day. It was a holiday. Schools were closed so I was at my home with my elder sister and my parents when the earthquake struck. As being 12-year-old I couldn’t understand what was happening. My father and mother told me and my sister to run downstairs.

My sister was on the way down, but I was not aware of the seriousness of the moment and was running a bit slowly. I managed to reach the parking area of my apartment.  I was running to get to the open area. The building was swaying. Suddenly one entire block came down on me. I went unconscious as the slab hit my head.

When I came back to my senses, all I could see was darkness around me. I was worried about my father and mother.  I wanted to know if they were safe. I tried to move my body, but I couldn’t.  I realized that my right hand is stuck in the window of one of the cars. I shouted for help, but no one came.

I wanted to save myself. It was not an easy decision, I thought for a while, gathered courage and finally I took a piece of broken glass and started cutting my hand just to get rid of that window, but the pain was unbearable.

Being strong was the only option so I told myself that I need to be mentally strong. I started chanting ‘Om Namah Shivay’. I was dehydrated as I was stuck there for approximately 36 hours. I saw water on the ground so I licked the ground in order to quench my thirst.

There were many people who were trying to save the trapped ones, but it was very difficult to save me as there were mountains of debris to be moved.  Soon the rescue team dug a big tunnel to reach towards me. They tried to put a jack in the car to remove my hand from that car, but they were unsuccessful. My hand caught gangrene. Now there was no option but to amputate my hand.


Just a few hours ago I had no I idea about what was coming on my way.

I was on the edge of losing my right hand.

So, they decided to amputate my hand, but again there was a problem as the doctor said that he won’t be able to give anaesthesia to me and would have to cut the hand without giving any anaesthesia.

I wanted them to take me out, so I was ready to bear the pain. I told them to go ahead. And then a team of doctors and rescue team tied a tightrope on my hand and amputated my hand. It was so painful that I went unconscious.


The next thing I know was that I was in Operation Theatre. After a day or so, I got back to my senses and I wanted to see my mom and dad, but my mom was also hospitalized and my dad didn’t want to face me due to my loss of my hand. I tried to get up from the bed but was not able to gather the strength to do it and that’s when I realized that I’ve lost my right hand.

It made me very upset and I started crying. I didn’t eat anything for days and didn’t want to meet anyone.  I was worried and tensed, I started thinking things like – how will I write, how will I comb my hair? I was so much worried about my drawing as I was very good at drawing. After a while, I got back to normal and accepted the fact that I will have to live this way only.

I was back home, but so frightened to go outside. My parents encouraged me so much; I joined school after two months. I was depressed about losing my right hand.


I understood that worrying about what happened won’t help me so better I should accept it and move ahead. So, I decided that I would start to write and draw with my left hand. When I attend the school for the first time after this incident, my classmates looked at me with sympathy. I didn’t like it. They were trying to help me with everything, but I used to get furious. I couldn’t understand that they were genuinely wanted to help me.  My teachers were supportive towards me. They never forced me for anything.


After school, when I joined a medical college, most people were supportive over there too. However, I also had some bad experiences during my internship. During an internship, some of my colleagues were not very helpful, but I ignored negativity and continued my work.

When I was studying psychiatry, one fine day Head of Department (HOD) called me and explained that – “There will always be negativity around, but you should be strong. You are going to be a psychiatrist so you should yourself be strong enough in first place to be able to help out your patients.” From that day onward I never looked back. I do yoga and meditation to stay positive.


My experiences taught me that we should believe in ourselves. Most of the time we live life how society wants us to live, but that may not the correct way. Don’t worry about what people and society think about you because only thing matters is what you think about yourself.


I often tell my friends and patients:

“Khudi ko kar buland itna ke har taqder se pehle, Khuda bande se khud pooche bata teri raza kya hai.”

“Develop yourself so that before every decree God will ascertain from you: “What is your wish?”

-Dr. Prutha Desai



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