When the patient was taken to the hospital he had no documents just a medical note alleging something was wrong with the man's head
Many readers still remember the story about the last prisoner of WWII, a Hungarian by nationality, who returned to the native land three years ago. Even now, in several years after his repatriation, people still call the Vyatsky Krai newspaper's editorial office and ask about the fate of the former prisoner of war from the German army. The man stayed in a local mental hospital for 55 years!
At the age of 22 Toma Andras had been taken to a mental hospital in the Russian city of Kotelnich from a military hospital situated on the railway station Bystryagi in 1947. A doctor from the military hospital supplied the patient with a covering letter and informed his colleagues in Kotelnich about the following facts: "The patient behaves incorrectly. He has delusions; he eats badly, doesn't sleep at night, weeps and won't take medicine." The patient had no documents. Psychiatrists made the first entry into the patient's case history that said the man was suffering from an acute fit of schizophrenia. Over 50 years since the patient was received in the hospital the case history turned into a volume of medical entries. The man had no passport and citizenship; in fact, his staying in the hospital was practically illegal. Doctors of the hospital got reconciled to the fact long ago. What is more, all attempts to identify the patient with the help of the Red Cross were in vain.
The life of Toma Andras suddenly changed when the first publication about his fate in the Vyatsky Krai newspaper drew attention of other Russian mass media. It took about a year to identify the patient of the mental hospital. Journalists, diplomats, military and civil citizens from both sides, Russian and Hungarian, took part in the long procedure of identification.
The return of Toma Andras to Hungary was in the focus of mass media in August 2000. It was said that the airport of Budapest housed an incredibly great number of journalists who gathered to see arrival of the prisoner of WWII. Today the last prisoner of war who got back home just three years ago is no longer a sensation in Hungary. However, the hero of the sensation is still alive. Toma is living with a family of his close relatives; it is interesting that the name of his father was Toma Andras as well. Three years ago when the last prisoner of war was to get back home, over 80 families in Hungary claimed for adoption of Toma as they declared themselves relatives of the man. An independent genetic expertise was held in Germany and it determined that relatives with whom Toma is keeping contacts now, sisters, brothers, nephews and nieces were his real relatives.
Head Physician of the Kotelnich mental hospital Yury Petukhov thinks that the story about the patient would have caused less trouble if the man had been given a wrong diagnosis by doctors in the Kotelnich hospital. It is an open secret that in the Soviet era not only people who needed psychiatric aid were placed to mental hospitals. That is why when Toma Andras got back to the homeland, Hungarian doctors called the diagnosis given to the patient in Russia into question. However, soon the diagnosis was confirmed at the Hungarian Psychiatry Institute where Toma had undergone examinations within several months.
Imre Csaky, then-president of the Gedeon Richter general representative office in Russia and the CIS seriously helped the Hungarian patient. The fate of Toma Andras would have been quite different if Imre Csaky hadn't worked hard to find out all details of the patient's life. The pharmaceutical company provided necessary financial support to the man. In the words of Imre Csaky, he even wanted to write a book about the fate of Toma Andras, but journalists of TV-2, the private Czech television wrote a book based on the story of the last prisoner of war ahead of Imre Csaky. One more book about Toma Andras was written by official from the Hungarian Defense Ministry Endras Lasco. By request of the ministerial command, the official dedicated several months to investigation of the life of Toma Andras and to the story of his army conscription. Nevertheless, Imre Csaky is a very important person in the life of Toma Andras: he helped Hungarian doctors very much when he translated the large volume of Toma's case history written by doctors in the Kotelhich mental hospital in the Russian language for over 50 years.
Imre Csaky left Russia not so long ago; shortly before the departure head physician of the Kotelnich mental hospital Yury Petukhov met with the ex-president of the Gedeon Richter representative office in Russia. Imre Csaky said he was no longer connected with the fate of Toma Andras.
Now Toma Andras lives in the Hungarian region of Szabolcs, the place is his native land. He is a pensioner; at the age of 78, Toma looks rather well and has just few complaints about his health. This is a pleasure for Toma to speak his native language. However, as Yury Petukhov learnt at the Hungarian Consulate in Moscow, doctors and relatives think that something is wrong with Toma's head.
The head physician of the Kotelnich mental hospital is happy that the patient, the last prisoner of WWII who spent 55 years in the Russian hospital has finally got home and met his relatives.
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