Mumbai: Aruna Shanbaug's cardiac arrest took doctors by surprise

Doctors at KEM Hospital said Aruna Shanbaug was showing signs of recovery and they had been hoping she would manage to fight the pneumonia, like she had once before; nursing staff said they were happy she died a natural death and no one was allowed to take her life in the name of a mercy killing

After spending 42 years of her life in a vegetative state following a sexual assault, 67-year-old Aruna Shanbaug, the world’s oldest comatose patient, died of terminal cardio-respiratory failure at the KEM Hospital last morning.

Complete coverage: Peace, at last, for Mumbai nurse Aruna Shanbaug

Nurses and doctors at KEM hospital bid a tearful goodbye to Aruna Shanbaug, who they took care of for 42 long years. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
Nurses and doctors at KEM hospital bid a tearful goodbye to Aruna Shanbaug, who they took care of for 42 long years. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi

Shanbaug, who used to work as a nurse at KEM Hospital, had been sodomised and choked with a dog leash inside the hospital premises by Sohanlal Valmiki, a ward boy, in 1973, after which she had slipped into a coma. She had been shifted to the hospital’s MICU ward and was put on ventilator and life support systems five days ago after she began suffering from pneumonia.

Aruna Shanbaug death: Fellow nurses, relatives bid tearful adieu

While the entire nursing staff was saddened by the loss, they also said that Shanbaug had been set free. Pic/Sameer Markande
While the entire nursing staff was saddened by the loss, they also said that Shanbaug had been set free. Pic/Sameer Markande

Till Sunday night, however, the hospital staff had maintained that her condition was critical but stable. This was the second time Shanbaug was suffering from pneumonia and the nurses and doctors were hopeful that she would make it this time as well.

However, even though she was showing signs of recovery, Shanbaug suffered a severe cardiac arrest last morning, leaving the doctors very little time to take any action. “She was showing positive signs of recovery. X-ray reports had showed that the pneumonia patch on her chest has been cleared and we were hopeful that she would come out of it.

But this was very sudden and unexpected,” said Dr Avinash Supe, dean, KEM Hospital. While the entire nursing staff was saddened by the loss, they also said that Shanbaug had had been set free. “When we looked into her eyes, we could see that she was suffering.

What happened is indeed sad, but it also means that she got freedom from a body that was suffering. Her suffering has ended and we are happy about that,” said a nurse. The staff members were also happy that Shanbaug’s death was a natural one and that nobody was allowed to take her life in the name of a mercy killing.

Also Read: Mumbai nurse Aruna Shanbaug, who was in coma since 1973, passes away

“We had no problems in taking care of her as long as she lived. We didn’t want her to be killed in the name of a mercy killing. She just couldn’t move; her internal organs were working perfectly well. We are happy that it was a natural death,” said another nurse, who had spent years with Shanbaug.

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