Photo Source: Babushahi Network
91-year-old mother of doctor son turns Corona Warrior
By Zinnia Balli
Mohali, June 19, 2021: The present corona crisis showed that people can rise to the occasion and use the skills they have to fight the pandemic with courage and give hope.
At the start of the crisis when there was an acute shortage of masks, Bhupinder Kaur Bedi, a 91-year-old resident of Mohali being mother and grandmother to eight doctors realized the significance.
It only took one sample of a mask for her to know that it was a simple task for her to stitch it. She got some pieces of cotton which she had got recently for her dress and started stitching.
“I can make up to 100 a day. It takes her about six hours approximately, working off and on. Hundred is on her best day, less on others,” shared Bhupinder Kaur Bedi.
After her morning routine that includes prayers, breakfast, and reading her newspaper, Bedi starts on her sewing machine (Usha – she got it at the time of her marriage in 1951!) by 9 am along with her daughter in law, who is a Pediatric surgeon.
Bedi told that since we were unable to get new clothes as the shops are closed, she used some old cloth pieces and also some of her son’s cotton shirts, both old and new to make masks.
“I initially gave the masks to distribute in the hospital but when that shortage was quickly resolved by the hospital I started distributing the masks to poor people who come to the nearby gurudwara for langar and to residents of Mohali village, as masks are now compulsory,” Bedi informed.
Others like the sanitation workers, gas delivery drivers, vegetable vendors, etc have also benefited from her largesse. “I’m very positive that the current crisis will be over soon. The government is taking the right steps,” she said.
As she is an Army wife (her husband was a Senior Paratrooper Commando Officer and participated with valor in the 1962 Indo-China and 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars) – she exhorts all her children and their doctor colleagues to do their duty – but to take due precautions. Her generation has seen the partition and the wars – as children, wives of Army men, and as mothers. Curfews, lockdowns, blackouts, and sirens are very familiar to her. Her paternal village is Dyalpura Sodhian near Chandigarh.
She shrugs off the ‘so called’ problems of lockdown with scorn – “We have survived bombings and air raids, looked after three children and four dogs when my husband was at a forward station and war and shifted six times at a short notice during postings,” she says “And no phone or internet or TV,” she further adds.
Bedi suggested everyone embrace the situation. “You can be your hero. You are like a soldier now, please abide by your duties.” Her generation is a tough one. They can take any curveball that life may throw at them.
“We shall overcome!” she says with a gentle twinkly smile as she continues her stitching. “Masks are still needed,” she sternly says. But now the number of masks stitched has dropped to 50 a day – she has run out of old shirts and sheets.
Bedi shared she was the first in her extended family to get vaccinated and her example encouraged others to also get the jab. Her son Dr. Harinder Singh Bedi is Director of Cardiovascular Sciences at the Ivy Hospital in Mohali, Punjab. He and his team operated upon several cases with active COVID.
Dr. Bedi explained that in Covid infection surgery is generally avoided for 2 reasons – firstly the risk to the patient is high of complications and secondly the risk to the medical and paramedical staff is high to get the deadly infection from the patient.
“In fact, quite a few hospitals turn away such cases. However, some patients would die from their disease if not operated on. These include patients with critical heart disease, patients with blockage in their leg arteries with impending gangrene, and patients with traumatic injury to blood vessels. In Ivy Hospital such acutely ill patients are not refused,” he said.
Dr. Bedi explained that all due precautions like full PPE kits are taken along with vaccination of all staff. Dr. Bedi and his team have operated on several such cases mostly refused from other centers and by God’s grace have saved all of them.
He has been giving his services to the people of Punjab and Haryana for the last 25 years, he was earlier at the Escorts Heart Delhi and the St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney.
He has been honored by various Chief Ministers of Punjab and the Health Minister of India for his contributions. He is a pioneer in beating heart surgery having a Limca Record for the World’s first series of such cases and having started the first open-heart surgery center in the private sector in the area covered by Punjab, Haryana, Himachal, and J & K.