news Saturday, May 16, 2015 - 05:30
Aruna  Shanbaug, a former nurse who was brutally raped and is bedridden for the last 42 years, is on ventilator support in the Intensive Care Unit at KEM hospital in Parel, Mumbai. Shanbaug is reportedly suffering from pneumonia and her condition is said to be critical. In 2011, Shanbaug’s story gained national attention after her friend Pinki Virani, an author and a journalist, had filed a petition in the High Court demanding mercy killing (euthanasia) for the former, but the plea was rejected. 67-year-old Shanbaug has been in a vegetative state for over four decades now. Shanbaug, who hails from Karnataka, was assaulted by the hospital’s sweeper Sohan Lal on November 27, 1973. He had used a dog chain to throttle her in the hospital's canine experiment room, which had cut the blood and oxygen supply to her brain, leaving her paralyzed and confined to bed. Pramila Kushe, a retired nurse from KEM hospital, had in 2011 told The Telegraph that she was the first one to find Shanbaug after the attack in the hospital’s basement where “she sat leaning on the stool with a dog-chain around her neck” in a pool of blood. She also said that Shanbaug wanted to say something and had tears in her eyes but fell unconscious as soon as she saw her and matron Bellimal, who was summoned for help. Shanbaug’s family is said to have abandoned her after the incident. She was engaged to Sundeep Sardesai who was a resident doctor in the hospital at the time of the assault. He had waited for her to revive for four years, but eventually moved on, states the report. Former matron of KEM Deepa Mehta, who had taken care of Shanbaug for more than two decades, said that the incident had led to independent India’s first nurse strike that demanded justice and treatment for Shanbaug and better protection and working conditions for nurses. She also added that Sohan Lal was never tried for rape but just attempted murder, since an official from the hospital had deleted the report that proved that Shanbaug was raped, in order to safeguard her marital life and dignity, states the newspaper. Sohan Lal was released after seven years of imprisonment. He went on to work in a private hospital in Delhi for many years. The report states that Lal however returned to attack his victim Aruna again after he was released. He had sneaked into her room and had brought down the rails of her bed in an attempt to push her down from the bed. KEM hospital has taken care of Aruna for the last 40 years. Their staff was against Pinki Virani for filing a petition for euthanasia. All the working and the retired nurses of the hospital had celebrated when the court rejected the plea.  Aruna was introduced to every new intern till date as the “Hospital’s baby”. On March, 7, 2011, the Supreme Court noted that the KEM staff had developed an emotional bond with Aruna, and were nothing short of her real family.

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