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Parents recount hospital horror

Calcutta, Sept. 13: The strongest indictment of the state of affairs at B.C. Roy Memorial Hospital for Children, where 14 babies died on the first two days of this month, came today as parent after parent narrated horror stories to health officials.

Parents of seven children who died in that period in Bengal’s only paediatric referral hospital met the director of health services, Prabhakar Chatterjee, who revealed little of what was discussed behind closed doors.

Chatterjee said: “We heard out the parents and will prepare a report to be submitted to the (health) minister (Surjya Kanta Mishra).”

The parents, however, could not stop talking. Bappa and Kakali Majumdar, parents of a three-day-old son born to them in a nursing home in Khardah near their residence, recounted how they had requested for an explanation of his death and the medical and paramedical staff at the hospital responded by throwing them back the question as to when they would be able to take his body home.

Their son was admitted to the hospital on August 30 with respiratory problems and died on September 1. “We were given no document explaining the reason for his death,” Bappa said after telling the health officials the same thing.

Sumita and Mahendra Das, parents of two-year-old Raju Das, said: “Hathe-paye dhorlam, bollam oxygen din, kintu pelam khali saline (We fell at the feet of the authorities asking for oxygen but all that our son got was some saline).”

Their son died without oxygen 20 hours after he was admitted to B.C. Roy with diarrhoea on September 1.

The couple had left for the address at Salt Lake, where the interview with the health officials was to take place, at 6 am and reached the venue around 10 am after walking “half of the township”.

“They just heard us out silently and, after we finished, told us to leave,” Mahendra said.

The parents of another three-year-old boy, Mahidul Islam, who died on September 2 did not even have the “strength” to come for the interview. Instead, Mahidul’s grandfather, Sheikh Abdul Qader, turned up for the “futile exercise”.

“The hospital could not give him anything,” Qader said, referring to the “absence of any treatment”. “My son and daughter-in-law are still in a state of shock,” he said, explaining their absence.

“Besides, what’s the point of coming here'” he asked.

Some did not turn up at all.

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