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'My husband, mom died without treatment within 1 hr of each other'

May 03, 2021 21:45 IST

Former Doordarshan director general Archana Datta lost her mother and husband to COVID-19 in the span of an hour after a desperate scramble to get them admitted to hospital in time to stem their falling oxygen levels failed.

IMAGE: A man stands next to a funeral pyre of a relative who died from the coronavirus disease during a mass cremation, at a crematorium in New Delhi. Photograph: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

Both were declared Covid positive after their death in a Malviya Nagar government hospital on April 27, Datta said on Tuesday while recounting her trauma in a Twitter post.

"Many people like me perhaps thought that it couldn't happen to them! But it did happen! My mother and husband, both, died without any treatment. We failed to have access to all top-notch Delhi hospitals we used to visit! Yes, after death they declared COVID positive," Datta, who was Rashtrapati Bhawan spokesperson when Pratibha Patil was president, said.


While her husband A R Dutta, who retired as director of the Defence ministry's training institute, was 68, her mother Bani Mukherjee was 88, the family's story underscoring the crisis of oxygen and hospital beds in the national capital.

"My son rushed both the patients to various private hospitals in south Delhi but were not admitted. Finally, a government hospital in Malviya Nagar admitted them," she said.

Her son Abhishek, who ferried his father and grandmother from hospital to hospital when their oxygen levels plummeted, is yet to come out of the shock.

"I lost both of them within a span of an hour. My father was declared dead on arrival while they tried to revive my grandmother but gave up after an hour long try," he said.

One week later, the rest of the family, except Abhishek, has also tested positive, Datta said. And the fear is that tragedy might revisit as the oxygen situation shows little signs of improving.

"I have not been able to grieve for my mother and husband. My niece is low on oxygen and my son has to run around for oxygen cylinders. We do not want to risk her life as we know that every hospital will turn us down," she said.

Datta is an Indian Information Services officer who retired in 2014 as director general, news, of Doordarshan.

Theirs is one of the many tragedies unfolding in India's national capital where the infrastructure is unable to cope with the daily number of cases and fatalities, and where hospitals everyday send out SOS messages about the acute shortage of oxygen.

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