At age 12, Sateshwar Raghanandan of D’ Edward Ketting, West Bank Berbice behaves as though he is much younger and can barely walk on his own although he was born a normal child.
He was a victim of a hit-and-run accident along the Cotton Tree road on February 19, 2009. The accident occurred around 6:30 pm as he was walking to church and it has changed his life forever.
He suffered severe injuries to the head and other parts of his body and was in a coma for about six months. Although he has recovered, his speech has a slight slur and he drags a little when he walks.
His mother, Kalawattie, 46, who was close to tears during the interview said she was thankful that he is alive given the state he was in after he was hit.
She told Stabroek News that he spent one month at the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPH) and two weeks at the New Amsterdam Hospital (NAH).
After he regained consciousness his parents realized that he had lost his mobility. “For a year we had to lift him all the time,” his father, Woobeenandan told this newspaper.
He said the child’s right foot from the ankle was twisted inward and after they noticed that they took him to the NAH.
Doctors there placed his leg in a cast for a few weeks but his parents were disappointed that his condition had still not improved. They then took him to the GPH where he was admitted for two weeks and doctors performed surgery.
That helped him to walk again but his foot still remains slightly twisted and he does not have “full balance and would fall.”
He was recommended for physiotherapy at the Fort Wellington Hospital and that also helped with his mobility. The therapists advised him to “exercise the foot” and his parents gave him a bicycle which he loves to ride. He also uses it to help his parents with small errands.
While this newspaper was there he got excited when the power was restored after a blackout and got up to watch cartoons on television.
Much to the amusement of this reporter, he even started to imitate one of the cartoon characters.
The child who is very friendly and pleasant said he loves to listen to music but if it is too loud it would trigger a headache.
He said persons in the neighbourhood would consume alcohol and play loud music late at nights and it would disturb him from sleeping. His mother said he would become restless and uncomfortable throughout the night after that.
She said he is not able to use his right hand and gave him a cup in that hand to show this newspaper what would happen. His hand started to shake as he raised it and the cup never reached his mouth. His mother assisted him in switching it to his left hand.
Further, the woman said her son loses his memory at times. Although his school friends would visit him from time to time, he cannot remember some of them.
She said Sateshwar who was 10-years-old at the time of the accident was in Grade Five at the Cotton Tree Primary School and was performing well. The last test he wrote, she recalled, he had achieved fourth place in his class.
According to his parents, the doctors told them that sending him back to school and interacting with his friends would help him to regain his memory faster.
However, his friends have already written the Grade Six Exams and moved on to other schools. His parents are currently trying to get him back into the public school system because they cannot afford to send him to a private school.
Recounting the accident, they said eyewitnesses had informed the police about the driver and they went to his home at No. 2 Village and arrested him.
The driver reportedly told police that he did not stop because he thought he had “knocked down a dog.”
The couple could not say if he was ever charged but related that he gave them a small monetary compensation. The money was exhausted soon after for Sateshwar’s medical expenses including a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the brain.
Thankfully, a report of the MRI showed that nothing was wrong with the brain. They also had to hire a taxi to take him to the doctor monthly.
That cost $10,000 for each trip.
The family is still struggling financially. Woobeenandan works as a cane-harvester and this is currently the out-of-crop season.
Kalawattie worked as a domestic but had to quit to care for her son.
She said it hurts her to see him in that condition, knowing that he was a normal and healthy child all along. She keeps praying that he would get well again.
The driver involved, Mahendra Ramanan, is now before the court for allegedly hitting down two children at Cotton Tree, West Berbice several weeks ago, killing one. The children, Jasmattie, 9 and her brother, Vijai Ramnauth, 7 were walking on the road when they were struck. Sateshwar lives next door to the children. His mother said that on the day of Jasmattie’s funeral she took him to view her remains and he immediately became upset and said he wanted to go home.