A doctor and eleven other COVID-19 patients who were admitted at Delhi's Batra Hospital passed away on Saturday, 1 May, with the hospital authorities linking their deaths to a shortage of oxygen supply.
Amongst the 12 dead, six of whom were all admitted in the ICU, one patient is the head of the hospital’s gastroenteritis department, Dr RK Himthani. The hospital has been raising alarms since 1 May afternoon.
While the hospital ran out of liquid medical oxygen supply around 12:30 pm, an oxygen tanker reached slightly over an hour later.
Hospital officials approached the Delhi High Court for oxygen and told them that the re-supply tanker reached one hour and 20 minutes later, leading to critically ill patients losing their lives. The hospital is among hundreds in the national capital battling a shortage of oxygen that is critical in saving the lives of both COVID and non-COVID patients.
"We hope no lives were lost," the court reportedly asked, to which the hospital said:
“We have... including one of our own... one doctor.”
Dr RK Himanthi has been described by his colleagues, friends and acquaintances as someone who had an ever-smiling face. He was the head of the concerned department since it was founded, The Indian Express reported.
In an interview to the newspaper, Dr Vipul Batra, senior consultant from the department of plastic surgery said, “He had been coming to the hospital since the beginning of the pandemic. He did not stop working. Professionally, he was always available for his patients and used to go the extra mile to make sure all his patients were fine. We used to get calls from him making personal requests regarding his patients.”
The hospital said his wife was admitted in the hospital and is being treated for COVID. She is stable, according to the newspaper.
Another patient who died was 64-year-old Kawalkeet Kaur Bhatia.
"My aunt... died because there was no oxygen. Her lungs were very infected. She was on the ventilator. Since 8 am there was oxygen crisis... attendants of patients were running around. We (the family) brought oxygen cylinders..." Ajeet Singh Bhatia told NDTV. He added that while the government was trying, he requested them with folded hands to address the issue as soon as possible.
Reacting to the new of the deaths (which was initially estimated at eight), Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted, “This news is very painful. His life could have been saved - by giving oxygen on time.
Delhi should be given the oxygen it requires. We are not being able to bear the deaths of people anymore. Delhi required 976 tonnes of oxygen and yesterday only 312 tonnes of oxygen was provided. How does Delhi breathe with such low oxygen?”
“The hospital just got an oxygen tanker. Our oxygen cylinders had also run out and for about half hour there was no oxygen at the hospital. There are 230 patients on oxygen beds and for sometime they did not have oxygen. Not getting oxygen can lead to complications for the patients in the future and we hope they pull through.”Dr Sudhanshu Bankata, Executive Director of Batra Hospital, told The Hindu.
Dr Bankata also told NDTV that the next 24 hours would be critical. He said, "These are patients whose oxygen levels sank when supply was low... it is hard to revive such patients. The next 24-48 are hours critical and the death toll could be higher.”
The second wave of COVID-19 is at its peak in the country, with India’s death tally having exceeded the figure of two lakh. The national capital, with a positive rate of 36 percent, has been registering more than 25 thousand cases every day. On 20 April, Delhi recorded the highest number of new COVID cases with 28,395 patients.
(With inputs from NDTV, The Hindu)