For doctors and other medical staff at civic-run Sion Hospital, parents abandoning day old infants has become an appalling reality. While MiD DAY reported on October 29 how a 4-day-old girl was abandoned barely two days after her birth and died a lonely death in the hospital (‘Abandoned by parents, unclaimedin morgue’), a month later, her body still lies unclaimed in the morgue. However, what makes the picture even grimmer is thatyet another infant, a 9-day-old boy, is now facing a similar fate.
The 9-day-old infant was admitted to the hospital on November 14 under his mother, Archana Shelar’s name, a Thane resident. Doctors were treating the infant for a disease known as peritonitis, which is an inflammation of the tissue that lines the inner wall of the abdomen and supports the abdominal organs. While the child was undergoing treatment in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), he was in dire need of surgery. Doctors at the hospital said that his parents fled on November 17.
“The infant was in need of a drain insertion procedure to remove accumulation of fluids. But a day after he was abandoned, he was given platelet transfusions, as his condition was only worsening,” said a doctor. After fighting a lonely battle for his life in the NICU, he succumbed to his illness at 6 pm on November 19 despite being incubated.
“He developed oedema (excessive build up of fluids in his body) and despite our best efforts, he passed away,” added the doctor. The infant was then shifted to the morgue where he lay with the 4-day-old girl who passed away on October 19. Her cause of death was extreme prematurity and a respiratory ailment. While police officials tried searching for her absconding parents, who fled two days after she was born, they met with a dead end because they had given false contact details at the hospital.
Not just infants
Hospital authorities say that families abandoned their loved ones of all ages, even while they are being treated at the facility. After their death, nobody comes up to claim the body. “We have 35 more unclaimed bodies in the morgue and in cases where the patient was undergoing treatment in our hospital, the relatives usually give fake numbers and addresses. Because of this, police officials have to carry out the cremation, which is a lengthy process,” said Dr Rajesh Dere, professor at the forensic department of Sion Hospital. While the cremation is ideally supposed to be conducted 10 days after the patient’s death, it usually takes at least three to four weeks. “A body that falls under the Sion police station’s jurisdiction has been in the morgue for 130 days now,” added Dr Dere. When we tried to contact Shelar on the mobile number registered, a man who identified himself as Pradeep said he received several phone calls from the hospital in the last few days. “I am an ambulance driver and the parents gave my number, as they don’t own a cell phone. They are poor tribals from Wada taluka and I am unaware about their whereabouts,” said the person on the other end of the phone.
A sub-inspector from Wada taluka police station in rural Thane said that the police officials were yet to receive details regarding the case. “We were informed that a 9-day-old boy passed away in the hospital, but no one has come forward to claim the body yet. Further investigations will be carried out to find the parents,” he said. On contacting Sion police station, a sub-inspector said, “We were looking for the parents of the 4-day-old girl but we’re trying to look for other relatives as a fake address was registered. The verification process can get lengthy due to this, and further steps will be taken shortly for the cremation.”