Her guardian described Kamala to me as an intelligent and kind person who is determined to overcome her challenges. Upon meeting her, Kamala struck me, as well as other team members, as a happy teenager, who's spirit has not been broken despite her tragedies.
Because of the distance of her village in the mountains, she has not been able to see her mother or siblings since arriving to the medical home seven months ago. Her father has been able to come to see her a few times and has come down since learning of the arrival of the Interplast surgical team. She was brought to our clinic by her guardian at the home, who found out about us from local advertising.
Back home in her village, she had to stop attending school. She wanted to get a prosthesis and learn to walk again, but it was impossible to get the assistance she needed at home. Last February, she moved into a home for children with disabilities in Dehradun. She began her long awaited physical therapy and got a prosthesis for her right lower leg. She is now able to walk with crutches.
Kamala's father relays that after pulling her off the tree, her friends began to make a lot of noise, in hopes of scaring the leopard away. The plan worked, but not before Kamala was clawed in the face, leaving her with deep lacerations and bony deformities of her right orbit and nose. One of Kamala's friends ran to Kamala's mother, who was nearby in the family's village. Someone in the village owned a car and took Kamala on the two hour ride to the closest hospital. She spent six months in the hospital recovering. There were no other injuries apart from the lower leg amputation and facial injuries. Miraculously, her eye sight was not affected. She spent the next several months going back and forth to the hospital for further management of the amputation. She did not have any type of operation to her face.
Four years ago, at the age of 12, Kamala was attacked by a leopard as she was gathering firewood for her family in a nearby forest. She recalls vividly the events leading up to the attack. She had been in the forest with some friends. Upon suddenly spotting the leopard, she quickly climbed a nearby tree and began screaming as the leopard began running towards her. The leopard followed her up the tree and grabbed her right lower leg with its jaws. As it pulled her off the tree, she was knocked unconscious. Her next memory is awakening in a hospital bed with her right lower leg amputated.
Kamala is a bright 16 year old female who came to clinic with a facial deformity causing her right eye to hang significantly lower than her left eye. She comes from the Almora district of the Indian Himalayas. It is a 12 hour bus ride away from Dehradun, high in the mountains. She is the oldest of five children.