Doctors in Singapore yesterday struggled to save the 23-year-old gang-rape victim who they said was showing “signs of severe organ failure” and had been put on “maximum artificial ventilation support”.
As she battled the odds in Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth Hospital, 12 days after being brutally tortured and raped in the Capital on the night of December 16, she continued to occupy mindspace back home — for the people and the leadership.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi joined Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in promising quick justice and saying there would be no Happy New Year greetings for the party.
The young physiotherapy intern needed the prayers and wishes, she added.
Besides a prior cardiac arrest, she also had infection of her lungs and abdomen, “as well as significant brain injury”, Kelvin Loh, Mount Elizabeth Hospital’s chief executive officer, was quoted as saying by local newspapers. “The patient is currently struggling against the odds, and fighting for her life,” he said.
Left virtually for dead with her male friend on the road by the six men who raped her in a moving bus, she was so grievously injured that her intestines had to be taken out.
All six have been arrested for the crime, and both Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi promised quick justice.
Wishing the woman speedy recovery, Gandhi said no time should be lost in punishing those responsible for the crime.
Gandhi added the party was not celebrating New Year due to the sad event. “December 28 is close to New Year. Normally we wish each other but not so this time as our thoughts are with the young woman fighting for her life after a barbarous attack on her,” she said.
The prime minister said a panel headed by a former chief justice of the Supreme Court had been set up to suggest changes in the law to make punishment more stringent, and another headed by a former Delhi high court judge to look into the lapses behind the ghastly crime.
Though the PM said she was being given the best possible medical care, a section of medical community said there was no logic in moving her to Singapore when she was in such a precarious condition.
“I can’t understand the logic behind it, or rather it is unusual to transfer the woman from Delhi to Singapore when the patient has suffered a cardiac arrest, as I have been informed by the media,” said Samiran Nundy, chairman, department of surgical gastroenterology and organ transplantation, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.
Another senior doctor from the trauma centre of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, requesting anonymity, said, “Maybe it was politically logical to shift the patient. But as a doctor, I would say it is totally insensitive to shift the patient with her infection spreading. Shifting now, that too within a few hours of cardiac arrest, is thoughtless.” Nundy also said that in case of intestinal transplant, chances of survival are five years in 60 per cent of cases, and one year in 80 per cent.
When asked, Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said that the government decided to shift the victim for advanced treatment after getting a recommendation.
Azad, however, didn’t clarify on whose recommendation the woman was taken to Singapore.
— With inputs from Niranjan Medhekar