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|November 13, 1997||
This heart ain't for real
Frankenstein might have loved it; Kanta Devi doesn't mind it either: it keeps her ticking.
Kanta Devi is the first Indian woman to have an artificial heart fitted. It's been on for the last three months and the racket it raises causes consternation everywhere she goes.
The heart's a titanium affair and can be heard from over two metres away even through noise. Kanta Devi finds all the interest amusing; all she cares about is her new lease of life after her old diseased heart was removed by doctors at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi.
She laughs as she displays to anybody interested the yards of wire and gleaming metal strapped to her and a battery charger the size of a small suitcase. But she sleeps in something that sounds like a boiler room, one that resounds with hisses and dull booms. Her husband, of course, has no complaints.
Kanta Devi is innocently proud about her appearance on television after the operation. "People dropped in to say I was on television," she gushes.
The only time Kanta Devi's artificial heart rate went up was when a power cut went on for longer than expected. She was down to the last of her six rechargeable batteries and had to rush off to a friend with a generator. Supplies replenished, she returned home happily, around the time the electricity did.
She moves around the house cooking, cleaning, doing the everyday things. Luckily, her four children have grown up so she only has to see that she doesn't snag the dangling wires somewhere. And she supplements the family income giving tuitions to kids. "I keep thinking of things to do," she says.
Irregularly she sneaks off her diet to eat stuff the doctors frown at. No matter, she doesn't have a heart to damage anyway.
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