Rajesh, a resident of the Siddharthnagar district in Uttar Pradesh, arrived at the Baba Raghav Das Medical College in Gorakhpur on August 9 with his ailing son who the doctor diagnosed with pneumonia.
His kid, he said, “trembled” twice before his eyes, prompting him to ask the doctor what was wrong. “The doctor assured me he would be fine in a few days’ time. ‘He has pneumonia, you don’t worry,'” Rajesh said.
On Saturday afternoon, Rajesh stepped out of the BRD College with his child’s dead body. Rajesh holds the body, draped in a Yellow-Pink towel in one arm, and consoles his wife with the other. The hospital has been a witness to the deaths of more than 60 children.
His wailing wife kissed the feet of the kid, unable to describe her pain. Not only did Rajesh hold the staff responsible for not “understanding the disease properly” but also alleges that they stopped him from leaving the hospital.
“They didn’t let me go because the health minister, Siddartha Nath Singh, was expected to visit the hospital and hold a press conference,” he said. They talked among themselves about media and all, he added.
When asked if the hospital really had a problem on the nights of August 10 and 11 when the maximum number of deaths occurred, the father responded in affirmation. “Yes, there was a shortage of oxygen and people were in distress,” he said, adding that his kid died because of the negligence of the doctors at the BRD hospital.
Not just oxygen, there was a dearth of beds, too. “The ailing children kept pouring in,” Rajesh said, adding that at one point, “there were four kids in a single bed”.
“There was anguish everywhere. A single doctor had as many as 60 patients to treat,” Rajesh said.
Rajesh requested the hospital for an ambulance after he was “coerced into” staying back. “They said, ‘you have a small kid. You can travel in a tempo. No body will say anything.'”
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Saturday evening denied allegations by families that such a large number of children had died due to the “shortage of oxygen supply” at the BRD hospital.
“The government is looking into the role of the gas (Oxygen) supplier and a probe has been launched. Those responsible for this will be dealt with strictly,” Adityanath said. A committee has been constituted to investigate the matter.
Uttar Pradesh health minister Siddarth Nath Singh reiterated that none of the deaths had occurred due to the lack of oxygen and he had a proof of that. The minister added that not all patients were from Gorakhpur and several from Nepal and Bihar also come to the city for treatment.
(The name of the father has been changed.)