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Adding colours to her life and Clinton's office Friday, April 6, 2001
AHMEDABAD: She was the youngest in the crowd of 'NGOs' who came to hold discussions on earthquake relief with Bill Clinton . Certainly seemed the odd one out , even in this motley gathering which comprised of less of NGOs and more of industrialists and a sprinkling of the media and the social elite.
All of 12, Prutha Desai was very much in the news when the earthquake took place on January 26. The girl got trapped under the Sangemarmar building and her right had to be amputated to extricate her. All through the operation, she was quite conscious as the surgeons sawed through her hand , right from shoulder onwards.
On Thursday , Prutha surprised everyone by presenting two paintings to the former US president . She now has an artificial hand on the right and she has started using her left hand for daily chores, even to paint lovely landscapes. Bill Clinton seemed overwhelmed by the gesture. "Isn't that lovely", he said displaying the two paintings to the gathering. Requesting the participatants at the meeting "to give her a big hand", Clinton said he would put up the painting in his office , or maybe his home. He gave back the girl the second paintings on which he wrote a note "thank you , Prutha".
The little girl, who studies in 7th standard at Mount Carmel, was all smiles as the people applauded her remarkable speedy recovery. Then she took her seat , only to be mobbed by the media which had been surprised why this shy young girl was present at all at a meeting where serious issues on earthquake relief were discussed.
The commissioner of American India Foundation (AIF) , Mukesh 'Mike' Patel , then told Clinton that Dr Daniel H Kim from Stanford University medical centre's department of neuro-surgery was in fact in Ahmedabad today and he would be having a look at the girl's amputed right hand to see if it would function better. Dr Kim, incidently, is a doctor of world repute and had performed microsurgery upon former US vice-president Al Gore's son.
The chairman of Eklavya Foundation, Sunil Handa , took Prutha immediately to Civil Hospital to meet Dr Kim . On inspection , Dr Kim , however , said nothing much could be done now that the hand had been amputated .But he still took some pictures of the artificial hand and said he will explore how the functioning could be improved.
Prutha's father , Bakul Desai , a chemicals trader, said the girl had been trapped in between a fallen beam and a car in the parking lot of Sangemarmar complex. After spending over 30 hours in excruciating pain, she had herself told her parents to get her hand amputated in order to get freedom from the pain. Later , the artificial limb was put in place by Dr Vijay Nayak who has returned from England to settle down in Bhavnagar.Prutha's case was also put up on the internet and had drawn a number of offers from all over the world , including the world-renowned Ottobock (Germany) , which offered to do the prosthesis free of cost.
Desai said Prutha had won several national and international awards in painting over the years , including a silver medal by well-known cartoonist , Shanker, who organises a children's art competition every year. Prutha has now started painting with her left hand and undergoes a half-hour routine four times each day to practice things like lifting a bucket of water, sifting through sand and , of course, doing what she does best - adding colour to her life.