In a humane gesture, Air India, on Sunday gave free round-trip tickets to three Bangladeshi patients, suffering from a crippling disease, and their attendants from Kolkata to Mumbai for treatment and back.
The move came after an appeal was made to the "Maharaja" of Indian skies, Air India, and its CMD Ashwani Lohani by a Mumbai-based neurosurgeon Alok Sharma, who has offered to treat Abdus (24), Rahinul (14) and Shorab (8), suffering from a form of muscular dystrophy.
The trio have been suffering from a rare disease Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy since their birth. This is a genetic disorder which causes progressive muscle degeneration and patients rarely live beyond 30 years of age.
Tofazzal Hossain, a fruit vendor from rural Meherpur in Bangladesh, had sought mercy killing for his sons - Abdus and Rahinul - and grandson Shorab from his government as he could not afford the cost of their treatment.
A Mumbai-based organisation specialising in such diseases,Meditourz, in collaboration with NeuroGen, a brain and spine institute based in Navi Mumbai, has offered to provide treatment to them.
"The three patients and the three persons accompanying them took this evening's Air India flight from Kolkata to Mumbai and will also return by an Air India flight after treatment- entirely free of any charges," Air India said in a statement.
The passengers had preferred to come by road to Kolkata to take the flight, it said. The national carrier made every attempt to make them comfortable, by offering them prompt wheelchair service and rosebuds in the flight, it said.
"We wish to thank Air India for its kind gesture of arranging the air travel for the three patients from Bangladesh and their family to come to NeuroGen Institute for treatment and for their return after initial treatment, "Sharma said.