Romanian Times by Carmiola Ionescu
Thirty eight years in hospital
A Romanian man who has been in the same hospital bed in the same room for 38 years has begged officials to let him stay after he was told they needed the bed - and planned to move him.
Petru Muresan, 56, has been in Elias Hospital in Bucharest for 38 years after he was left paralysed when he hit a rock as he dived into the sea at the age of 18.
With nowhere to go he was simply kept at the hospital, and with the exception of one visit to meet a British doctor, has never left.
But now the funding crisis in the country's healthcare system and a new administration has meant hospital managers want his bed for other patients, and say he has to go, either to be cared for by his family or moved to a disabled clinic if a place can be found.
But a tearful Muresan explained: "I don't want to go, this is my home, it is all I have known since I was 18. I have built my life here, I even have a job now to pay my keep, working as a translator for the doctors using a laptop that I operate from my bed."
Outside, the world he knew has changed forever in the almost four decades he has been in his bed, and he says he is no longer a part of it.
"The thought of going out in the world terrifies me. I thought the worst moment in my life was when the British doctor told me I would never walk again, but actually it was more frightening being told they were planning to move me."
He said he was hospitalised when he was a teenager, saying: "I jumped into the Black Sea while I was on holiday with my family. But the water was not deep enough, and I was left paralysed. In 1969 my hopes that I would one day be normal again collapsed in a British Clinic.
"A British doctor came here to examine another patient and examined me at the same time, and said I should go to his clinic. My family managed to send me there and I was full of hope, but after three months of tests he came to me and explained there was no hope for me, and I would never walk again. I was devastated, but he had also given me the hope to make a new life, and I did that here in the hospital, following his advice to use my mind, studying English and French and becoming a translator. I also learned chess and played in several competitions, and once I won a major championship before the Romanian Chess Federation closed down.
Muresan said the caring treatment he had from friends at the hospital helped him most of all.
"The nurses and doctors have been more to me than my family, and I use my translation skills to help them out in return, writing up medical reports, PhD papers and so on. The doctors helped me get my certificate as a qualified translator."
But he fears he could now be moved out of the hospital to free the bed up for other patients.
Elias Hospital spokesman Dr Mircea Osanu said: "We have all become very close to him. He is part of our family, but the person in charge of his case wants to move him from here. However, we are hoping that something can be done - he needs understanding and humanity after 38 years in his bed."
Muresan said: "Sometimes I wish I had died when I jumped in the Black Sea that day, although day by day I have rebuilt my life and am more at peace with myself now than ever.
But nothing scares me more than the thought that I might have to leave. My life is here, its all I know."
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