Intended for healthcare professionals


An unexpected present

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 08 April 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:981
  1. Gita Mathai, paediatrician in family practice
  1. Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India

    The young woman was clearly visible from the consulting room window, her emaciated frame draped in the tattered remnants of a sari, with a marasmic toddler balanced on her hip. She begged for food and alms, reaching wordlessly through the open windows of the buses parked at the bus stand.

    She frequently pointed to the toddler, her eyes eloquent and beseeching. Few could hold out against this poignant appeal, and she made a good living. I watched her every day and noticed her abdomen getting bigger. On my home from work one day, I …

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