‘Baby Nashwa fought bravely but lost the battle’

Father makes emotional plea for better medical facilities for children


Saba Naz/sajid Rauf April 23, 2019
Relatives, friends and neighbours gathered at the house of Nashwa Ali, after news of her death on Monday morning. She was laid to rest later in the evening. PHOTO: ONLINE

KARACHI: Nine-month-old Nashwa Ali, who had been under treatment at the Liaquat National Hospital (LNH) after alleged medical negligence at the Darul Sehat Hospital left her paralysed, lost the battle for life on Monday morning. She was laid to rest at the Pehlwan Goth Graveyard, after her funeral prayers were offered after Isha prayers at a mosque near her home.

The infant girl was paralysed for two weeks after the administration of a wrong dose of medication. After the child breathed her last, the parents initially refused a post-mortem, but eventually gave in on the intervention of the three-member medical committee, formed on the directives of the chief minister. The body was then shifted to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), where a three-member board, comprising Prof Farhat Mirza, police surgeon Dr Qarar Abbasi and Dr. Samia Tariq performed the examination.

Overwhelmed with grief, the child's father, Qaiser Ali, said, "My daughter fought bravely but lost her battle and tyrants won … for God's sake please make joint efforts so that no other father has to experience what I am going through right now."

The case

Nashwa Ali, a resident of Al-Habib Housing Society situated in Gulistan-e-Jauhar's Block 16, was brought to the Darul Sehat Hospital in Gulistan-e-Jauhar on April 6, along with her twin sister, Amisha Ali, for treatment of diarrhoea. The girls' condition improved a day after treatment.

However, before discharging the infant patients, the staff administered an injection to Nishwa after which her heartbeat abnormally increased. She also faced difficulty in breathing. The infant was shifted to the hospital's ICU where she was placed on a ventilator.

The victim's father had claimed that the incident occurred due to an overdose of potassium chloride (KCL) injected by untrained hospital staff. The hospital has recruited many amateur medical technicians and staff on low salaries putting the lives of patients in danger, he told media. The injection that is administered over a period of 24 hours was given in a single dose due to which the condition of the infant worsened.

After her condition deteriorated, Nashwa's father had demanded legal action against the hospital and seeing no recovery in the child's condition for a week, she was shifted to the LNH on April 15, where she was admitted to the ICU.

At the time, the LNH spokesperson Anjum Rizvi had said that almost 72 percent of Nashwa's brain cells had been badly affected. Her heartbeat had stopped temporarily after the wrong injection was given to her by the Darul Sehat Hospital staff. She was given CPR for 40 minutes to restore her heartbeat. During the CPR, oxygen supply to Nashwa's brain was suspended, which in turn, had left most of her brain cells badly affected.

During the week, the spokesperson had said that the child was showing signs of improvement, but was not out of danger yet. She was put on supplementary oxygen.

Battle lost

On Monday morning, after battling for her life for a week, Nashwa breathed her last between 9am and 9:40am. According to Rizvi, doctors had tried their best to save the child's life but her condition worsened on Monday morning as her lungs could no longer hold oxygen.

The LNH spokesperson explained that when a serious case such as Nashwa is admitted to the hospital, several expert doctors examine the patient. Nashwa was examined by neurologists and a board, comprising several doctors, was formed to monitor her progress. The doctors were consulting each other twice a day after trying different medicines and doses.

Hospital probe

Darul Sehat Hospital's executive-director Shahzad Alam said that Nashwa and Amisha were admitted to the hospital on April 6, with complaints of vomiting and diarrhoea. Both girls were given a similar course of treatment and both were administered the KCL injection. Alam said that the hospital administration was investigating the way the injection was administered to Nashwa.

On the other hand, the cause of death, to be ascertained from the post-mortem, has been reserved "till reports from histopathology and overview of hospital records."

Court proceedings

Meanwhile, a local court handed over three accused in Nashwa's case to police for physical remand, and sent another accused to jail on judicial remand.

Police presented the arrested employees of Darul Sehat Hospital, Admin Officer Ahmed Shehzad, Nursing In-charge Atif Javed, Nurse Sobia, and Agha Moiz before the court.

The petitioner's lawyer, Muneer Ahmed, argued that the site of the incident should be sealed and the hospital owner should be arrested. He maintained that Dr Attiya was released by the investigation officer (IO). The lawyer argued that the IO did not have the authority to do so and this was in violation of court orders. The lawyer accused the management of destroying the records.

*With additional reporting by Tufail Ahmed 

Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2019.

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