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Doctors refuse to take credit for blast duty

Last updated on: July 17, 2006 16:18 IST

July 14, 2006. A board outside the Sion Hospital in northcentral Mumbai informs us, 'There is enough stock of blood, blood donors please leave your contact number with the hospital.'

On July 11, just after seven bombs ripped through seven trains on the Western Railway, an appeal had been made for blood. The citizens of Mumbai had come forward so willingly that the hospital has had to turn likely donors away.

In the hospital compound a crowd of people wait to visit the patients. Inside the wards where the victims of the blasts are being looked after, everything looks clean. Obviously the wards have been spruced up for the prime minister's visit.

Doctors, nurses, ward staff and resident doctors at the hospital worked round the clock to save the victims. None of them is willing to take credit.

Most people who visited the hospital after July 11 were impressed with the care the hospital provided, a welcome change from the horror stories one hears about government or municipal hospitals (the Sion Hospital is a municipal hospital).

The staff need permission from the dean to speak to this correspondent, permission that is not forthcoming. Says Dr M E Yeolekar, the hospital dean, "You people (the media) will make heroes of five or six people, which is not fair to the rest."

Dr Yeolekar insists that since it is a team effort, everyone should get credit. As doctors, he says, it is their duty to serve the legitimate demands of the patients; it wasn't an option.

For the last three days it has been a well coordinated and multi-disciplinary effort, he points out. General surgeons, orthopaedic surgeons, vascular surgeons, anaesthetists, doctors, nurses, laboratory, ward and security staff worked together, round the clock.

The first challenge was to look after the injured. Then the medical teams had to ensure that relatives and friends of the victims remained calm while the doctors and staff went about their duties.

In all, there were 41 dead bodies in this hospital, including those that had arrived dead and those who the hospital could not save. One body has not been claimed yet.

Sixty-four patients had been admitted with injuries, 40 had been discharged. On Friday there were 21 patients still receiving treatment at the hospital, including three in the Intensive Care Unit.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who visited the hospital on Friday afternoon, met all 21 patients. He also visited the trauma ward and the casualty centre, complimenting the hospital staff and commending the victims on their willpower and strength.

A Ganesh Nadar in Mumbai