A nine month old ends up paralyzed, Parents question the procedure which left child lifeless

The parents of three-year old, Sonam Peldon, wonder if their baby succumbed to paralysis because of the operation done on her when she was just 9 months old.

The girl child is now unable to stand on her feet.

After the operation, Sonam Peldon’s body is paralyzed and her left hand has become lifeless and insensitive.

Back in 2009, when Sonam Peldon was born, the baby had a cyst-like formation at the lower back region.

When Dema Yangzom, the mother asked the doctor about the implications in the long run, the doctor then had said that it would have no impact and had it was left as is.

She told The Bhutanese, “As she (Sonam Peldon) grew up, the lump at her back also grew bigger and bigger. Every time, I took the baby to hospital for check up, I was given Paracetamol and sent back but when my daughter was nine months old, the lump got worst, reddish and at times pus came out. Her condition got worse, she stopped drinking milk, and she vomited and had high fever. Then she was admitted in the hospital where the doctor’s said that it had to be operated.”

“At first, they said that the baby needs to be referred to Bangalore but later two doctors had meeting for almost two days and finally said that operation can be done here,” she said.

The operation was carried out in March 2010, when the child was just nine months old.

After operation, the condition became worse, her neck was not in a normal position, and there was no movement in her legs or hands.

“The baby was not reacting to the medicines,” the mother said.

“I was not convinced with her condition, after keeping her in the hospital for almost half a month, I forcefully brought my daughter home, took her to Lamas, performed rituals and visited India to perform traditional treatment on her.

The baby’s condition did improve but not altogether. Half her body was paralyzed, her left hand could not feel anything,” Dema Yangzom said.

Ever since Sonam Peldon returned from the hospital, Dema never returned for further treatment with the fear that her condition could become the same.

“Had my child been in the hospital, she would have been killed,” the mother said.

Before the life-changing accident, the baby could move her legs, crawl but after the operation everything was tragic, said the mother.

“She has problem with the bowel movements, normally, children at this age, can go to toilet but my daughter does not have control over it,” said Dema Yangzom.

Sonam Peldon, who is now three years and four months old has to drag her whole body to move around and seeing her baby in such condition, Dema Yangzom has no words to express rather than to shed tears.

“My daughter always asks, when can I walk like other children but I never have answer to her question,” said the mother.

The Bhutanese tried to contact the hospital staffs for their version of the story, but, the doctors involved in the case were on trainings and could not be contacted.


Chencho Dema /Thimphu

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  1. so why do you publish one sided story? You can not wait to get what doctors have to say? What kind of journalism is this? 

  2. Dear Chencho dema,
    i feel you have done an excellent job by bringing this to media for following reasons:
    1. Our public should know that our medical professionals are just another group of human and mistakes do happen by human hands.
    2. This will sensitize our public about the legal settings in country in case they decide to to go court and sue the concern medical professional for whatever cause they feel is appropriate.
    Yet, the author could have gone a step further,
    1. Check for medical records of this patient
    2. Read more on the medical condition of this young girl of 3
    3. Learn what were the options for treatment and how bad was the condition
    4. Had our medical professional given this young the most appropriate treatment available in our country or outside.

    Therefore, i feel the author has presented a half baked story to the public, yes it really good it came out but it would have been better had it been a complete one.
    You see, our medical professionals are already suffering from lots of issues which are out of their hands and they are working hard, so lets not try to tarnish and demotivate them with a half baked story.
    Hope you ‘ll do a follow up story on this issue and let the public know the complete story.
    We all know news papers look to sensationalize an news they get their hand on. Lets not do that, it better know learn to present truth first n then may be if necessary sensationalize it according to the merit.

  3. If you present just one side of the story, your credibility ca be questioned.

  4. article is written on very poor knowledge, there should be difference between a laymen writing a report and a trained journalist ( professional) . esp medical corespondents need to go through the probable disease before even investigating to report. there can be countless  different lumps that can appear at back. which each of them will be completely different in nature. based on this variability, need of prompt surgical intervention will also differ. short  and long term complications of the disease also should be known. surgical complications also has to beaware. compliance to medical advice and its importance has also to be enquired. lot more. so before reporting to public blindly blaming doctors for may be not even little bit of doctor’s fault , such reporters has to think carefully its negative impacts on health seeking bahaviour of public and faith in modern health care. already because of poor health seeking bahaviour and influences by lot of traditional practices, there is significant delay in seeking health care at right time. (eg. an elderly female who found a lump in the breast ignores or seeks some traditional cure  delays medical care untill fatal stage of a breast cancer, which if came to medical attention at earliest would have had better and longer chances of their survival from treatment).many more to cite. so dont just  report with almost zero information about the disease/condition when writing  for public reading. social roles /responsibilities being journalist needs to be kept in mind all times.

  5. This has also happened to my little cousin. Almost similar case. Doctors are not doing anybody any favour, they are just doing their job for what they are paid for. And in their line of service if they have been deliberately negligent they must be booked for what they have done. Lets have more debate and discussion on this. I hope that “The Bhutanese” will follow this lead more seriously. 

  6. Firstly it is sad to know & think about the future of such a adorable child. Secondly, it is nothing new in case of patient treatment due to various reasons as doctors are also like any other professionals burdened by incompetency, negligence (for various factors), lack of diagnostic facilities, tight schedule of doctors especially in the dzongkhag hospitals where one or few doctors have to run all around like attending OPD, ward, meetings, receiving visiting guest, conference, training, personal activities and many more. All these above problems lead to dispensing medicines what ever is available at the counter especially the pain killers which helps to subside pains in the patient body and the satisfaction in the mind as one has visited the hospital. However, the real problem does not go away as it may be different (in fact it was a cancer in my relative’s case). After substantial period of time the real problem starts to surface and the doctors at that point of time if the  like,  they would refer the patient to the referrals within and even outside where the condition is declared irreversible (the last stage cancer). No body wish to spend public fund going on referrals outside. This could have been curtailed if & only if diagnosis was done on time/taken care and treatment given on time. Hearty thing is that cancer can be cured if it is detected in the first stage THE DOCTORS say.

  7. Concerned citizen

    To the reporter, 
    When you come up with a story, always substantiate whatever you’re saying with concrete facts! 
    You report about a medical condition – but you haven’t even used one single medical jargon – at least specify the medical condition. You seem to have had an in depth conversation with the mother – you should have asked for medical diagnosis cards! 

    Is journalism about defaming a group of professionals? 
    You need to speak to doctors, (wait for them to come back from their training) and publish a story which is fair to both parties! 

    concerned citizen!


    How can a mother lie about her own child? I completely believe dema yangzom. I too experienced several experimental disgusted torture in jdwnr hospital. The sense of professionalism is totally absent. Even for minor treatment like dental or eye check the VIPs are referred to hospital in Bangkok by jdwnr but for serious case like a small child she is operated in Thimphu. I have seen how poor patients are treated. I am VIP, and I was given VIP treatment for minor treatment, but I have seen worse case for poor people. I keep my mouth shut coz I will not receive same treatment if I open my mouth.

    But what gov, acc, etc are doing? why can’t they solve this issue. Some ministers have sickness and they visit Bangkok now and then as if they are going to sabzi bazaar. It makes me very sad when this things happen in our country. 

    The hospital is very professionalism corrupt. Every time the doctor is out for training.

  9. “Had my child been in the hospital, she would have been killed,”    OMG this is how our journalists report. Are you discouraging people from seeking treatment from hospital? Something is wrong with this paper. 

  10. This report does not seem to have been written by a trained journalist. Its childish..Its like a essay written by my class V kid. I don’t understand how “The Bhutanese” editors edits and finalize the news to be printed. We have already read one of your childish article few weeks back where you have written about one engineer of CHP who invented some crap like home generator for electricity. That article was written without any study being done on the topic. And now this bullshit article with a sole aim to just sensanalize the news. Try to get fact from all ends and put up a complete article, otherwise your paper is slowly loosing credibility…

  11. We all were a child once and we all will be parents or some of us are already a parents. No parent will lie about his or her child or children.
    I feel we should never doubt about what mother said to the journo, it is the duty of journo to present the facts in organized and valid ways to the public. We in Bhutan have tough time convincing our public to come to hospital early for treatment and many of our people still believe in first performing some pujas and then only take to local healer n then last resort to hospital. Article like one is not going to make our health system any healthy or friendly in the eyes of already hesitating public.
    So, dear journo friend from “The bhutanese” your intention was very good but in the process you forgot your professional code and ethics.. that is presenting complete and thoroughly investigated facts and figures.
    After all your paper is what they called doing investigative journalism. right?

  12. Shouldn’t the hospital or the health ministry have a spokesperson who can talk to the media on this matter? Why is it so difficult to get in touch with them? This is the reason why there are miscommunication and misunderstanding happening because the authorities are so hard to reach and refrain from giving their side of the story, for whatever reasons known or unknown.
    It’s tragic to know that a 3- year old is denied good health and a future due to her medical condition. Shouldn’t the hospital be held accountable for the health of the child to some measure? Shouldn’t there be follow ups from the hospital even if the mother was reluctant to go to the doctors? The hospital should have someone to counsel parents of young children who undergo serious operations. Life is precious. It’s outrageous that a family must have to endure and suffer from such gross medical neglect.
    The article would have been more concrete if the reporter could have pursued hard to get answers from the medical authorities. And please do a follow up because we need to know if little Sonam Peldon can treated and her condition can be improved. She deserves a fighting chance. Thank you.

  13. it is disheartening when we get such acusations for all the hard work. had it not been for the surgery we wouldn’t be seeing the child in the picture .

    i can’t discuss openly about our cases but since the accusations are made i would like to clarrfy some of the doubts expressed. the child was born with a defect in the spinal cord and presented to us with multiple abscess in the spinal cord which was confirmed by CT scan. the surgery was done as life saving intervention. it was very difficult to treat the infection and the child had prolonged hospitalization. the paralysis is a known complication of the disease process. i have also explained to reporter who came to see me today. some one mentioned about VIP being sent to bangkok, i would like to inform that the JDWNRH has no authority to send patients to bangkok. we at the hospital are trying our best within the limited resourse and look forward for any positive/constructive suggestions to improve the care to the general public. sincerely

    • Thumbs up…..

    • Thank you for coming on this forum and stating the fact that it was the surgery that prolonged her life, but now, are there any treatment plans for little Sonam? Can doctors in Bhutan help her through further medication or surgery? I hope such points will come across if there’s a follow up story.

      The online forum thoughts are not intended to dishearten the medical staff. Doctors and medical staff are highly respected by the people because of the special position they hold in people’s lives. And for some constructive suggestion, more than any other professions out there, it is the medical doctors, nurses and staff, that need top notch communication skills. You are dealing with the health and lives of people directly! This goes out the the health ministry as well. What you say matters immensely even if it means you have to spend more than the allocated time with your patients. A little kindness can go a long way, even in the recovery of patients in some cases.

      And for any doctor willing to take little Sonam Peldon’s case – may you prosper, live long and healthy, and may your future generations be blessed too.

      • Dear Kinzosan,
        Was it myelomeningocoele? Did you give the full treatment for the abscess?(If yes please mention the course of antibiotics and all). Did you give the correct medications? 
        And the most important of all is what was the SURGERY done on her? 
        And with the medical ethics in your hand, did you talk about the prognosis and the outcome of your surgery with the parents? It is the right of the patient for the access towards such informations.
        Lastly, don’t  get disheartened for the accusations because it is the right of the people to know and of all it is your duty(remember Hippocrates laws)
        I would like to hear the details of the above asked questions ASAP

    • Dear Kinzosan,
      Was it myelomeningocoele? Did you give the full treatment for the abscess?(If yes please mention the course of antibiotics and all). Did you give the correct medications? 
      And the most important of all is what was the SURGERY done on her? 
      And with the medical ethics in your hand, did you talk about the prognosis and the outcome of your surgery with the parents? It is the right of the patient for the access towards such informations.
      Lastly, don’t  get disheartened for the accusations because it is the right of the people to know and of all it is your duty(remember Hippocrates laws)
      I would like to hear the details of the above asked questions ASAP

  14. This is not unusual in our country. I have heard many stories alike in the past. One reason why we are so tolerant about such practice is beacuse we tend to steadfastly and ignorantly hold on to the views of “Karma”. If a surgeon negligently operates on another human being then the Karma of this poor little girl is blamed, not the doctor who destroyed her life. These surgeons have either over estimated their skills to operate on her or they have undervalued the life’s of another human being because they do not want to make a referral for people who are destitute and at the lower rung of our society. As usual doctors will keep on testing their operating skills on poor Bhutanese people while people at the top are referred for minor surgery abroad even without doing any clinical diagonosis. This is our society. What more do we expect? Ofcourse such negligent practices from our highly esteemed doctors. At least they should personally feel guilt for doing such things to a poor girl. If they cannot operate on others, they should not because every one of us have a moral obligation to respect life of another human being. I know we can do nothing for this but my hope is that at the least if government could kindly look into the life of this little girl from now on. i wont mind my taxes investing on her.

  15. Dear Chencho Dema,
    It is very good of you to bring such issues into light. I know such misdiagnosis and wrong treatment is going each and every part of our country because we don’t have medical laws that can punish the physicians who commits such things. 
    But to make the news a fruitful one I think you need the information from the respective hospital, the diagnosis the poor girl got and the surgery the poor girl received. This is the very core heart of this news. I hope you can manage this and publish again in the next continuation. I want this because I am also a Doctor and i fear something very bad is being done by them on this girl. And I tell you that such news is going to create a kind of awareness for all the bhutanese physicians and at the end the people of bhutan will get the correct treatment.  

  16. It is indeed sad to see that this case is not generating a good discussion. We are talking of a life here a young and fragile life.
    People would make 100 comments if it’s sth on politics or corruption.
    Is health not so important?
    well, it surprises me though to see that our public ignoring this article. This article has provided us a perfect platform to discuss and do a check n balance on our health system. Seems anyone is hardly bothered, why should anyone be bothered

  17. and they ask for more money. Our doc. has no ethics.

  18. Please break the bones of the guilty !!!!!

  19. My personal feeling is it’s better not to use term guilty!!! unless there is full proof… the reporter has not given anything on the condition or type of surgery.
    Good!! people are concern and showing interest in discussing this case.
    lets continue more and tell ourselves we’ll try our best avoid such cases in the future as much as possible.

  20. Do not assume that only the reporters  and some people who wrote here have feeling for this little girl and value human lives. Doctors are humans too and they analyse the situation and give the treatment keeping in mind the best possible outcome for the patient. Without even knowing the ground reality of what was done, what was not done, what could have done, what should not have been done and the nature of the disease and its prognosis, some have already accused the doctors. What is the point of this blind accusation?  

    Hope the reporter will investigate properly and publish the details of the findings. If the doctors have been negligent, they should indeed be punished.  It is not so easy as some one suggested to have spoke person from the hospital. The spoke person will not know about the patients as hundreds of patients are treated by different doctors but he can at least make an arrangement  to meet the doctors who were directly involved with the patient.  This type of half baked story will only make the health seeking behaviour of our public even worse beside hurting the sentiments of hard working health professionals. 

  21. its good that this story came up. just because we are human beings doesn’t mean mistakes can be accepted. yes mistakes may be accepted but, if its on your own expense. the responsible doctors should be 100% sure before the operation and, if they are not, they should have signed an agreement.  and a doctor will make mistake only when they take things lightly. the responsible people should be sued and fixed so that they know every living being is important (not just the life of their friends and rich men).  

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