Jaipur Vet’s Free-Of-Cost Prosthetic Limbs Are Helping Amputee Cows, Horses & Dogs Walk Again

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India has seen remarkable progress in the domain of prosthetic limbs, so much so that fully automated bionic arms and legs are readily available at affordable prices for the public. The land of the famous Jaipur foot has made unprecedented advancement in upgrading these products to global standards. However, have you ever wondered what happens to the speechless and helpless animals who lose their limbs? For most stray animals and even pets, accidental loss of a limb or inborn defect leads only to a lifetime of agony and physical disability.

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

“For instance, in a cowshed full of productive cattle, if one cow fractures its limb, we have to amputate it immediately. Four years ago, there was nothing more to be done beyond that. The cow, in most cases, would be neglected by the owner or caregiver thereafter,” narrates Dr Tapesh Mathur, a veteran veterinarian surgeon from Jaipur.

He is perhaps better recognised as the creator of ‘Krishna Limb’ – India’s first prosthetic limb for animals. The Krishna Limb is a brainchild of Dr Mathur himself who manufactures these in his personal workshop and provides to amputee animals, completely free of cost. Though he is based in Jaipur as a surgeon at the government animal hospital, Dr Mathur has managed to help over 90 animals from all over India, including Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Telangana, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.

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A prosthetic limb for Krishna the calf

The designs of the prosthetic limbs are customised according to the animals – be it a cow, horse, dog, cat or others. Nearly four years ago, the basic framework was originally invented for a calf named Krishna.

“People would bring accidentally wounded cattle and other animals to me. In most cases, an amputation is necessary in case of a major fracture or infected limb. But I used to wonder what happens to the amputated animals. Once, during my visit to a nearby Goshala, I spotted these helpless animals lying uncared in a corner. Owners start overlooking them since they no more remain productive,” Dr Mathur reveals.

Around this time, a calf named Krishna was brought to Dr Mathur, who had to be amputated.

Determined to help the timid animal stand on his feet again, he came up with the very first prototype of a prosthetic limb and fitted it to Krishna. It took the little calf a few weeks to get adjusted to the device, but once he did, he was bouncing around in happiness.

Little Krishna’s delight touched Dr Mathur deeply and prompted him to start making prosthetic limbs for animals, investing his personal savings. He coined the term ‘Krishna Limb’ for these prosthetic limbs, after his first successful effort with Krishna the calf.

Krishna Limbs For Animals

Dr Mathur provides the limbs free of cost

Dr Tapesh Mathur and his wife Shipra Mathur started the charitable trust – Pen Media Foundation, with their own savings, which welcomes financial contribution from beneficiaries and well-wishers, and the collected funds are invested in the limbs. “But we never demand a penny from the owners whose cattle and pets we help out,” Dr Mathur clarifies.

The limbs cost around Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,000 depending on the animal, but all the money comes from the Pen Media funds.

From cows, horses, dogs to parrots

The present design of the Krishna Limb is a result of a series of upgrades from the very first one. Now the team is adept in customising prosthetic limbs for different animals upon request. “We generally work with cows, horses and dogs but have started receiving applications for other animals as well. Recently, we got a request for a limb for a pet parrot. We are still working on the design,” he shares.

Krishna Limbs For Animals

Their working procedure is quite straining since it is impossible to transport an amputee animal to Jaipur from some remote part of the country. So, Dr Mathur personally visits the amputee animal with his team, records all necessary details of measurements and mould the Krishna Limb accordingly. Later, during a second visit, the limb is attached to the animal.

Checking the progress of the animals

Fitting the animals with a prosthetic limb is no cakewalk, as the animals fail to understand its use and feel uneasy with an external attachment. That is why a 15-day physiotherapy training is mandated for the animals to get accustomed to the polypropylene limb and start walking again.

Krishna Limbs For Animals

“Earlier, we found some cases of carelessness where owners did not practise the physiotherapy as per our advice, and the prosthetic limb became only an impediment to the animal. So, now we compulsorily make the owners sign an affidavit where they pledge to look after the animal after the limb attachment. We also ensure to take feedback from them after a month or two,” shares Dr Mathur.

Want to see your dearest pet jump and leap around happily again? You can contact Krishna Limb and place a request at 09928015504.

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MyStory: “Two Months After I Joined IIT For My PhD I Was Diagnosed With TB”

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A person suffering from Tuberculosis (TB) not only battles the ‘Mycobacterium tuberculosis’ bacteria inside his lungs but also from the stigma attached to the disease. It weakens the patients in many different ways in their fight against the dreaded disease.  

My fight with TB was also filled with stigma. I joined IIT Kharagpur for my PhD in January 2015. Two months later, in March 2015, I was diagnosed with TB. I had to take sick leave from March 2015 that eventually lasted till June 2016. Initially, I did not respond well to medication. Further tests revealed that I had multidrug-resistant TB (MDR TB). This meant that the type of TB I had was resistant to two or more of the antitubercular medication I was taking.

About a year after the intensive phase of my treatment, I felt better and applied for readmission to IIT in July 2016. A prerequisite for rejoining was that my faculty members had to verify my application. With the formalities completed, I resumed my education, but I felt that something was amiss. 

My guide indicated that he did not want his work to suffer on account of my illness. I also heard from a senior colleague that my guide had said that I would spread the disease like an ‘infested animal’. I was disheartened at being subjected to this indignity by my supposed mentor.

However, my primary concern was defeating TB, so I didn’t dwell on it. Today, as I reflect on it, I realise the reasons behind the stigma were ignorance as well as fear.

Even among the educated, there are misconceptions about TB. People think all forms of TB are contagious. Others believe the patient is infectious for the entire length of the treatment. Some even believe that TB spreads through touch. This breeds the fear of contracting the illness.

As we know, people stigmatise and discriminate when they fear. I felt the impact of the stigma on two levels – in my professional life and my personal life.

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Professionally, the reluctance of my supervisor to mentor me and his discouragement affected me. I could not decide whether I should wait for the IIT authorities to tell me to leave or drop out. That decision was made for me by luck when I found out that my CSIR grant application was never processed. 

This meant that I would have to pay for my education. Given the expenditure on my treatment, this was unaffordable for me. This was the final nail in the coffin. I was forced to drop out and could not go back to completing my PhD.

What I faced was not technically illegal. I was discouraged from doing my PhD, but it was still a form of stigma. The external stigma I faced led to depression and isolation. 

Eventually, I realised I had to fight. The treatment for TB is difficult, requiring strict compliance and the management of side effects, and these demands resolve. I began motivating myself. I began following a proper diet and completing my treatment to ensure I could recover. I also turned to books as they transported me to other worlds and helped with my isolation. I also focused on reviving my old relationships.

Gradually, things improved. I could not proceed on my desired career path, but I am an educator now. I constantly realise that I have a role to play in shaping young minds. 

Workplace stigma has tangible consequences. It affects an individual’s career, financial opportunities and their right to work with dignity. So what can we do to address this stigma? 

First, we need to sensitise people by educating them about TB, and the impact stigma has on patients.

Another measure is group counselling involving the patient, the employer and the immediate supervisor. Informal versions of these sessions happen in the workplace in the context of illnesses like cancer. Why should it be any different for TB? 

The goal of this session would be to ensure that the patient is in a supportive environment. 

Finally, at a systemic level, there needs to be a workplace policy on stigma mitigation and a mechanism where the patients can anonymously register their concerns about stigma at the workplace.

A person’s career or job is often their calling and a provider of financial security. Workplace stigma creates a hostile work environment, affecting a person’s ability to do their job and their financial security. Financial insecurity and stigma make it harder for the patient to fight TB both in terms of means and motivation. Therefore, addressing stigma in the workplace is critical to patient well-being and recovery but also to their right to work with dignity.

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Quote
It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote
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