Patna: A man from Bihar has started a “mobile oxygen bank” to help save lives after facing difficulty in arranging a piece of life-saving equipment when he battled the deadly COVID-19 while in hospital for days.
Gaurav Rai’s near-death experience has now transformed his life and he can now be seen making rounds of the city streets in his car laden with oxygen cylinders and handing them out for free to people in crisis. The most common complaint of virus affected families is that oxygen cylinders are not easily available at this critical time with cases multiplying in the past month.
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The entire state currently remains under a fresh spell of lockdown in view of surging coronavirus cases. The fresh lockdown which was enforced on July 16 has been extended till August 15.
“I was admitted to the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) on July 14 after my blood oxygen saturation level dropped to alarming 54 (against normal blood oxygen saturation level between 95 and 100) and I was able to see and speak properly,” Rai recalls. “I urgently required an oxygen cylinder to survive but none appeared serious towards my fast deteriorating condition. My family made distress calls to so many officials in the power and the hospital administration and it was then that I was given an oxygen cylinder. I survived but that proved to be my lifetime experience,” says the general manager of a private company.
Mobile oxygen bank
The first thing that he did after being discharged from hospital was to convert his car into a “mobile oxygen bank”. Initially, he started the bank with four oxygen cylinders but now the number has gone up to 34. Of them, he has donated 24 cylinders.
“They are all free of cost. I don’t charge money even for refilling the cylinders. I get a lot of pleasure in seeing smiles on the faces of the victim families,” Rai said adding some of his close friends have joined him donating money for arranging oxygen cylinders. A filled oxygen cylinder normally costs around Rs8,000 and their refilling costs Rs400 in the market.
Now people too have been calling him for help after he made public his cell phone numbers through the local media, social sites and the FM radio Channels.
Rai said he launched the initiative after finding the government machinery too slow. “I found there was no use of criticising the government since none was taking any note of them. So I launched my own oxygen bank. I have at least four oxygen cylinders available on my car anytime.”
Panic across Bihar
In addition to that, Rai claims to have donated blood 86 times and plasma seven times. “No pleasure is bigger than filling happiness in the life of others,” he adds.
Surging COVID-19 cases caused panic across Bihar with the virus now spreading to every corner across the state despite all the precautions made by the government and lockdowns enforced seven times in the past four month. According to a latest report of the state health department, COVID-19 has claimed around 330 lives across the state and infected more than 60,000 people.
What is more alarming is that 50,000 cases were reported in the past one month only.