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Rediff.com  » News » We would like to get answers: Hoax call nurse's family

We would like to get answers: Hoax call nurse's family

December 10, 2012 20:03 IST

The distraught family of an Indian-origin nurse, who got caught up in a prank call made to a hospital treating Prince William's wife Kate, believe she died of shame after falling for the hoax.

Jacintha Saldanha, 46, was found dead at the nurses' quarters next to the private King Edward VII hospital in Marylebone, central London on Friday.

Saldanha's brother Naveen has said that his sister died of shame following the royal hospital hoax.

Naveen was quoted by the Daily Mail as saying that his devoutly Catholic sister was a "proper and righteous person".

She would have been devastated at unwittingly assisting a colleague in breaching medical confidentiality over the condition of Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge.

"She would have felt much shame about the incident," Naveen said.

Saldanha answered the hoax call at 5.30 am on Wednesday, while she was helping out on reception at the time of the prank. Giggling DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian were pretending to be the British Queen and Prince Charles and asked her if they could be put through to Kate.

Saldanha connected them to another nurse who gave details of Kate's condition, who was suffering from acute morning sickness at the London hospital.

A recording of the conversation was broadcast on the '2Day FM' station with the DJs gleefully boasting about their successful hoax.

Saldanha, whose husband Benedict Barboza is an accountant with the National Health Service, moved to the UK ten years ago from Mangalore in Karnataka.

Benedict expressed his sadness on his Facebook page with a short note 'Obituary Jacintha'.

"I am devastated with the tragic loss of my beloved wife Jacintha in tragicĀ  circumstances," he wrote.

He said she will be laid to rest in Shirva, India.

Saldanha's sister-in-law Celine Barboza said the family could not understand what had caused the mother of two to end her life.

"We just cannot believe what has happened," she said.

"She was a very strong person and couldn't have taken this drastic step easily. We would like to get an answer," Celine said.

The family live in Southmead, Bristol. Saldanha stayed in the nurse' quarters in London during her shifts at the hospital.

Saldanha's mother-in-law, Carmine Barboza, said that the family was desperate to bring her body back to India to perform the last rites in the Catholic tradition.

"Nobody is giving me any information about her and whether her body is being brought to India," she added.

After visiting Saldanha's family at their home, Member of Parliamenr Keith Vaz said a memorial service was being planned for next week.

King Edward VII Hospital had set up a memorial fund in her name.

Although she was not blamed in any way for what happened, friends said Saldanha "took it very badly" and was extremely "traumatised".

The hospital has repeatedly stressed that Saldanha did not face any disciplinary action and it "was working hard to support her".

But the feeling that she had unintentionally broken the hospital rules, bringing shame on her and her employer, may well have pushed her into taking desperate action.

Her fellow victim of the prank, who has not been named, is also said to have been "incredibly upset".

On Sunday, a special Mass was held at St Vincent de Paul Presbytery in Southmead, just 200 yards from Saldanha's home.

"She was a very caring wife, a very loving mother and a gentle friend and neighbour who regularly attended church. People are saddened -- it is still all very raw. She was well known and well liked in the community and she will be a loss," Father Tom Finnegan said.

"She felt especially privileged to work in the hospital in London -- everyone is deeply shocked and saddened," he added.

H S Rao
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