JOHOR BARU: Although she survived a tragic road accident that left three others dead, Sharmini Shuba Ratnah was later diagnosed with osteoarthritis.
She was said to be one of the youngest patients in Hospital Sultanah Aminah to have undergone a total hip replacement surgery on both the left and right side of her body at the age of 21 in 1991.
“Doctors diagnosed me with osteoarthritis, a condition of the joints that commonly occurs only as you age, after I survived the accident when I was 15 years old.
“They noticed that the broken bones on my left leg was taking too long to heal.
“Doctors were reluctant to conduct an operation then because of my age but when my hips collapsed in 1991, they had no choice,” she added.
After being hospitalised for a year due to the surgery, Sharmini faced many challenges as her movement was limited and she was unable to stand or sit for long.
The 40-year-old single mother saw many doors shut on her as employers did not want to hire someone with a physical disability.
“I worked as a quality control officer in Singapore between 2001 and 2008 but had to resign after my knee started to give way,” she said.
Sharmini added that she conducted home tutoring for six years before taking up a job as a cleaner, but was fired.
Worse was to come as her husband left her a few years ago and she had to care for their three schoolgoing children who are now seven, 12 and 13 years old.
Despite the odds against her, Sharmini persevered and now sells apparel online to help provide for her children.
With her never-say-die attitude, she is also an active volunteer in various non-governmental organisations and hopes to inspire others.
“It has been really hard for me to secure a job but I try to earn a living and manage without asking for handouts.
“I tell my children to never give up on their dreams and strive for success," she told The Star when met here.
During a routine hospital check-up three years ago, doctors diagnosed Sharmini with rheumatoid arthritis on her left knee and she has to undergo total kneecap replacement surgery for her left leg.
She is seeking help to raise RM6,500 for the implant, without which she could become paralysed.
Johor Wanita MIC and Community Empowerment And Development Organisation chairman N. Padma Devi said the Mentri Besar’s office via the party had contributed RM1,500.
“The sum will cover the deposit for the surgery but we are hoping to raise more from the public,” she added.
Those interested to help can contact her at 019-727 6207 or bank in the money to the Community Empowerment and Development Organisation AmBank account number, 888-100-861-490-1.