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Nurses at Mumbai hospital take care of colleague till her last breath

45-year-old Rita Sequiera, who passed away on Wednesday, had been diagnosed with a rare spinal condition; a team of nurses at the hospital tended to her daily needs, persuaded doctors to treat her for free and even pitched in financially

Losing a loved one is a pain that is hard to overcome, but with the help of friends, one can tide over grief. This is what happened to one such family at Nair Hospital, where nurses took care of an ailing colleague till her last breath, and provided support even after her passing.

Rita Sequeira (left top) had worked at Nair Hospital for 25 years. Her colleagues, who were by her side till her last breath, organised a prayer meet at the hospital after her passing
Rita Sequeira (left top) had worked at Nair Hospital for 25 years. Her colleagues, who were by her side till her last breath, organised a prayer meet at the hospital after her passing

Rita Sequeira (45) was diagnosed with a rare spinal illness and was bedridden for the last three months of her life. She had worked for 25 years at the hospital. While her husband stayed by her side and spent all his savings on her treatment, it was the support and encouragement of the hospital staff that helped the family through the ordeal.

Be it taking care of their bedridden friend, cooking her favourite meals or collecting funds and finding doctors to treat her pro bono, the nurses left no stones unturned in caring for their friend.

“We felt blessed to have such people around her. Even when I couldn’t attend to her due to work appointments, her friends were always by her side,” said Sebastian Sequeira, Rita’s husband. Rita, who was suffering from a rare spinal condition that had left her paralysed waist down, passed away on October 15.

On Thursday morning, the staff organised a prayer meet in her memory. “I could not afford the hospital expenses by myself and the hospital came to our rescue there as well,” Sebastian added. The family spent nearly R4.5 lakh on treatment and medicines.

Degenerative condition
It all started in July when, one fine morning, Rita, who also had diabetes, suddenly collapsed in her house. After sleeping for a couple of hours, she woke up to realise that she had lost all control of her legs. “We immediately rushed her to Nair (Hospital) and conducted tests to find out what went wrong.

Over the next couple of weeks, we took her from one hospital to the other, hoping to find out exactly what happened to her. She underwent a surgery in a Vashi hospital, which cost around R2 lakh. Even after the surgery, she was bedridden,” said Sebastian. Doctors also suggested another surgery, which would have cost around Rs 6 lakh, which the family could not afford.

This is when the Rita’s co-workers stepped in. “We got a call from the hospital matron who asked us to shift Rita back to Nair Hospital for further treatment. Later, I was told that the nurses had joined hands and contacted some of the best doctors in the city for consultation,” added Sebastian.

Tests showed that any further surgery on Rita’s spine could prove fatal, so she was put on medication in order to help her get better. The nurses also helped find doctors whom they convinced to work pro bono for their friend. “My wife was fed up of surgeries and medicines; so, in the end, she requested she be kept at Nair Hospital only, with her first family,” he added.

Over the next couple of months, her friends were at her service 24x7, feeding, cleaning and bathing her. “All the nurses also contributed financially for her treatment and got her treated by some of the best doctors in the city.

For us, she was family and we didn’t mind going out of our line of duty to do the best we could,” said Surekha Sawant, the matron at the hospital. Last month, Rita’s left foot showed signs of infection and a doctor suggested amputation.

“Our nurses did not want that, so they got in touch with a well-known doctor in Raheja Hospital, who prescribed medicines instead of amputation,” added Sawant. Last week, however, Rita’s kidney got infected, leading to failure of both her kidneys. This was followed by a cardiac arrest on Wednesday morning, which ultimately caused her death.

“Rita’s husband has already spent a lot of money on her treatment and they also have an eight-year-old son. We have collected money and will hand it over to her husband and hope it will help the family,” Sawant added. Rita was finally laid to rest on Thursday and a prayer meet will be organised this Saturday by the family.

While the family is still coming to terms with her loss, they feel they couldn’t have handled this issue without the staffers. “They work with so much compassion and are very rarely appreciated for their work. I hope, some day, I can also repay them for all their help and support,” concluded Sebastian.

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