World's oldest comatose patient, Ms. Shaunbaug dies after struggling for 42 years

May 18, 2015 16:13
World's oldest comatose patient, Ms. Shaunbaug dies after struggling for 42 years

Ms. Shaunbaug was a junior nurse at the Mumbai’s state run King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital. One day she scolded a Ward boy and cleaner named Sohanlal Bharta Valmiki for reportedly stealing the food that was intended for stray animals adopted by the hospital.

To take revenge, Walmiki waited in the basement of the hospital till she comes. As soon as she came, the attacker strangles Shaunbaug with a dog chain, which cuts the oxygen supply to the brain. The hospital staff found her in the hospital basement after 11 hours of the attack. By the time, she was blindfolded, paralysed, and chained around the neck.

Shocked by the heinous act, she went to coma. The incident took place in 1973. From that day on, she was bed ridden and was in vegetative state in KEM Hospital. The doctors and nurses of KEM took her responsibility on their shoulders and for 42 long yerars, they supported her fight to live. The life time achievement awards for every hospital staff in their respective fields is probably the only felicitation to recognize their service. Finally, after struggling for 42 years in Coma, she died today at the age of 63. She is the oldest comatose patient in the world.

Though an author named Pinky Virani filed a plea in the Supreme Court to grant Shaunbaug, euthanasia, the KEM staff opposed it and fought for her right to live till her last breath.

As the clock ticks 12:23 today, I started penning about the painful story of Shaunbaug, for which I found no words. Yes words fail me.

What to say. Shall we question the existing of humanity? No certainly not. Because this is a story with the worst and best sides of human behaviour- the disgusting, unpardonable act of the rapist on one hand and the selfless service of the staff and doctors of the hospital on the other hand.

The only reason, she stays in coma till now is to make us self-examine by watching her. But Rapes are not new to India and so are for news channels.

There is no barometer that can measure her pain and grief over these decades. 42 years, day-in and day-out on bed and imagine about the patience of the doctors and nurses who treated her like a child when her immediate family itself stops caring about her and abandoned her after seeing her lying on the bed in Coma. Four generations of doctors served her till date. While the private hospitals are inheriting the money spinning business, this is the first and possibly the last incident that lasts in the history of private hospitals in India. Let the hat goes off to the entire staff of KEM.

The pathetic fact here is the sadistic bas***d who raped her, was sentenced only seven years of imprisonment. Seven years jail term Vs 42 years of Coma. What an Injustice? God denied her right to live and Indian Government denied her right to die. As simple as that.

May your soul rest in peace Ms. Shaunbaug. Any hell out of this world will be a heaven for you.

- Manohar

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