Is govt also to blame for killing her?
From p1 Two medical bulletins scheduled at 4.30 and 6.30 had been cancelled for the first time since the patient had been admitted. This was because there was no consensus on what to tell the public, according to the doctor. “It appeared the medical superintendent was under pressure from the government,” he says.
He also vehemently denied reports that Safdarjung doctors wanted to accompany the victim to Singapore. Dr PK Verma, in- charge of Safdarjung’s ICU unit, who, along with Medanta’s Dr Yatin
Mehta, finally went in the ambulance, was in fact reluctant to go, he said. “We were apprehensive, that if something happens to her on the way, the Singapore hospital would not have accepted a dead patient.” Finally, under immense government pressure, the medical superintendent had to give a statement late at night after the ambulance left the hospital, saying that she had been shifted abroad after “medical advice”.
But for a country known for medical tourism, were the facilities so inadequate that she had to be transferred to Singapore? Or was the treatment easily available in India?
Medical experts claim that India is not only equipped to handle multiple organ transplants, including small bowel transplant, but can also provide medical care at par to that in western countries. Dr K Ravindranath, a surgical gastroenterologist and chairman and managing director of Global Hospitals Group, said, “In India, we have the required infrastructure, and enough experts who can treat such patients. [ Multiple organ transplants] is not new for us. This patient did not need a transplant immediately. What she needed was good critical care, which can be given in our hospitals too.”
According to Dr Sumit Ray, vice- chairman and senior consultant, Critical Care, Medicine, at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, “in this case, what the patient needed at the moment was critical care. For that, there are plenty of hospitals in Delhi- NCR which are good or even better. There was absolutely no need to take her all the way to a hospital in Singapore.”
“Before shifting the patient abroad for a transplant, we have to consider whether the patient is fit for the transplant,” said Dr Sanjay Oak, vice chancellor at the Dr DY Patil University, Nerul, and former dean of KEM Hospital.
Shockingly, Mt Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore is not even known for transplant, which would in any case be at a much later stage. Dr Sudeep Shah, consultant gastroenterological surgeon at Hinduja Hospital, said, “In fact, before the infection is controlled, there is no way that an intestinal transplant can be done. The patient can be kept on intravenous supply of nutrition for as long as a couple of months till the infection subsides before the possibility of a transplant can be considered. Moreover, Singapore is not the international hub for intestinal transplants.” The best centres would be Pittsburgh in USA and Canada, added Dr Ray.
“Mount Elizabeth Hospital has not conducted a single successful intestinal transplant till date. There was a huge risk in shifting her abroad when she was battling severe infection. A transplant in this case was not feasible at all,” said Dr Sanjay Nagral, senior gastrointestinal surgeon at Mumbai’s Jaslok Hospital.
However, Medanta’s Dr Yatin Mehta, who had accompanied Patient X in the ambulance, told DNA. “We wouldn’t have agreed to assist in the transfer if we thought it was too late. She survived in Singapore for 48 hours. I cannot talk about what she was like as a patient because all I know about her is based on hearsay. When we came to Safdarjung, it had already been decided that she should be transferred, we just had to help in the transfer,” he said.
Even the Indian Medical Association ( IMA) on Saturday questioned the government’s decision to airlift the victim to Singapore. Dr Vijay Kumar, president of the IMA, said, “It feels as if the government didn’t have faith in healthcare in India. We are hurt, as this move has caused people to doubt whether our hospitals lack the infrastructure to treat such patients.”