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Girl better, doctors cautious

New Delhi, Dec. 25: The condition of the Delhi gang rape victim appeared to improve today, but doctors have cautioned that she seems to be hanging on to life through medical support and is not yet out of danger.

“Her condition is a shade better than yesterday,” said Sunil Jain, a senior surgeon at Safdarjung Hospital where she is under treatment. “The internal bleeding which was happening yesterday has reduced significantly.”

Doctors said they had reduced the level of ventilator support to the girl and her platelet count — a measure of her resistance to bleeding —had increased to 81,000 from 19,000 on Sunday, but she continues to have a fever. A normal platelet count in a healthy individual ranges between 150,000 and 450,000 per microlitre of blood.

The 23-year-old woman is recovering from a brutal sexual assault by six men in a bus on December 16 during which she suffered severe injuries in her intestine. She lost sections of the intestine during the attack and surgeons removed residual sections.

“We can’t say the girl is recovering, she is still critical,” Jain said. “We are pumping platelets and plasma (components of blood) and nutrients into her body. Her real improvement will be when her body starts producing these (platelets) on her own.”

Doctors also said that today, for the first time, they had been able to feed the girl normal levels of nutrients according to her body weight.

“We have been feeding her intravenously, but earlier the amount was less. She is now able to absorb higher amounts of nutrients required by her body,” said Badrinath Athani, medical superintendent at Safdarjung Hospital. Athani said her bilirubin level of 7.7 — a sign of either a liver problem or a flaring infection — was a matter of concern.

Doctors have also said the girl, who is undergoing regular psychological assessment, has shown considerable amount of will power given the nature of her injuries.

“She is communicating through non-verbal gestures. She is hopeful of her future. What she needs now is emotional support, so we have also spoken to her parents to psycho-educate them so that they can help her cope,” said Rajesh Rastogi, head of psychiatry at the hospital.