How Leprosy Robbed Appala Swamy of His Dream

Reddy Appala Swamy, aged 70, lives in Salur, Andhra Pradesh. He has never attended school. He and his brother spent their childhood working in the paddy field they owned.

When Reddy turned 18, he developed patches on his body. He took medicines from a quack for one year. After one year he developed ulcer (a secondary complication of leprosy) and visited TLMTI’s Salur Hospital. There he took multidrug therapy (MDT) for one year and was fully cured. But, as a complication of leprosy, he developed an ulcer on his right foot and was admitted for treatment. The ulcers became malignant and when he was twenty-five, his right foot was amputated.

Reddy was shaken. Like his elder brother, he too had dreams of a happy life. After he came back from the hospital, he became isolated. His brother had got married but Reddy felt he had no future. Over time, Reddy developed clawed hands. He would fear to touch his brother’s children, for they might contract the disease. His neighbours completely isolated him.

Reddy tried doing odd jobs, but later on gave up. His brother died eight years ago. Since then, he is living with his sister-in-law and his three nieces. They consider him as part of their own family. “My sister-in-law and her children are very good. They respect me a lot,” says Reddy. Reddy receives some income from his land and also gets disability pension of Rs 1,500 per month, from the government.

He comes to TLM Salur Hospital whenever his ulcer aggravates or he is in need of prosthetic limb. Over the years, his family and TLM’s support has kept him going. Reddy has chosen not to give up and looks forward to every day spending time with his brother’s family, which has become his own family.