Calls for help on social media for hospital beds, oxygen cylinders, Remdesivir were aplenty during India's second COVID wave. Our mother, Meenakshi Bhardwaj, breathed her last at Batra Hospital in New Delhi on 1 May after battling the virus. Twelve people, including our mother, lost their lives that day at the hospital as it ran out of oxygen. This was widely reported in the media.
In the light of this, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Bharati Pawar's written statement on 20 July informing the Parliament that no death had been reported due to shortage of oxygen during the second wave of COVID-19 is an affront to thousands of grieving families that lost their loved ones. Delhi's Batra Hospital told the Delhi High Court on 1 May that 11 patients and a doctor at the hospital had died due to oxygen shortage.
It was 19 April. My mother's COVID test report returned positive. My brother Ankit was caring for her at home, monitoring her O2 levels constantly. On 22 April, due to her deteriorating condition, we shifted her to Mission Hospital. Realising that she may not get full care there, we moved her to Batra Hospital on 25 April.
We were somewhat relieved to know that she was on the path to recovery in the ICU until 30 April when my brother was informed by hospital that there was a shortage of centralised supply of oxygen and we had to arrange oxygen cylinders for our mother from outside.
We were not conveyed the severity of the lack of oxygen, or maybe, as the hospital staff was already overworked, it was just hastily conveyed. Like many others in the ICU, those infected with the Delta variant needed a high flow of oxygen and could not survive on oxygen cylinders alone. Thus, the requirement from the centralised oxygen supply from the hospital was critical to such a patient's survival.
The next morning, as is well known by now, Batra Hospital ran out of centralised oxygen supply, leading to the loss of many lives. The doctor attending to our mother also said that her death was a direct consequence of the oxygen depletion.
The responsibility of providing a steady flow of medical oxygen as well as drugs et al lies with the state and central governments, especially in such dire times.
The government clearly failed in providing such necessities and because of that we lost our mother who was only 64 years old.
We believe that the central government’s recent remarks are, without doubt, baseless and hurtful. We are outraged by these comments. Clearly, the right to life was taken away by the government from many people, including our mother. The government failed at keeping its citizens safe and alive.
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