Beyond Disability Woman Takes UPSC Exam With Oxygen Cylinder

Kerala woman writes UPSC exam with oxygen cylinder

A rare bone disorder couldn’t deter Latheesha Ansari from appearing for the civil service exams with external oxygen support. This 24-year-old woman from Kottayam suffers from a rare bone disorder coupled with a respiratory condition. She is now wheelchair-bound but is highly motivated and has her eyes set on the coveted civil services. On Sunday, she appeared for the Preliminary Civil Services examination at the LBS School of Technology in Thiruvananthapuram, on her automatic power wheelchair and an oxygen cylinder kept her company.

Born with bone disease

Latheesha, who is appearing taking UPSC exam for the first time, was diagnosed with type II Osteogenesis Imperfecta (brittle bone disease) after birth. As she grew older, pulmonary hypertension coupled with the existing rare genetic disorder worsened her condition, limiting her mobility completely. She has been dealing with this condition since over a year now, due to which she needs an oxygen cylinder, always. For this specific reason, she requested the government for a portable oxygen concentrator to travel with.

An Aspirant IAS

Latheesha wants to be an IAS officer. She is carried to school by her father, Ansari, who hails from Erumeli in Kottayam. She has completed her M. Com degree and has chosen Malayalam as an optional subject for the examination.

“The paper was easy, and I hope and pray that I clear it,” Latheesha said to NDTV. She is competing in the general quota. “I am determined to crack this examination because that would inspire many others like me to do it too,” she added.

Her parents, who accompanied her to the test center are financially challenged. “We spend around Rs. 25,000 per month for Latheesha’s medical and supportive care, which includes the use of oxygen cylinders round the clock. There are many loans to repay too because we keep borrowing from well-wishers,” said her father, who runs a small eatery.

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“I desperately need portable oxygen support because I have to move around taking competitive examinations. I have completed my education and need to work. I take motivation classes. I cannot stay inside the house all day clinging onto heavy oxygen cylinders,” Latheesha explained.

A keyboard champ too

Latheesha also loves to play the keyboard when she is not brainstorming for the examinations.

“It is an interest that began when I was in class 4,” Latheesha told The News Minute.

Needs support

Her parents have always stood by her, refusing to give up, even when a school they approached for her admission rejected their application. “We took her to another school then. Two years later, the school that had rejected her, called her back and from her third grade to her 12th, she went to the St Thomas school in Erumeli,” says Latheesha’s proud mother.

“The government needs to understand that this is a rare genetic disorder that affects just one in 20,000 people. It has to be brought under the rare disease list and included in the law meant for people with disabilities. There are many afflicted people like Latheesha who are struggling for dignity of life and financial help,” Latha Nair, who runs a Thiruvananthapuram-based non-governmental organisation – Amrithavarshini – for those suffering from brittle-bone disease, said to NDTC.

Feature Image Credit: Puthiyathalaimurai

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