In a major mix-up, the body of a patient who succumbed to COVID-19 went missing from Hyderabad's Gandhi Hospital on Wednesday. A day later, it was found that the body had been given away to the wrong family, who had buried it.
37-year-old Rashed Ali Khan passed away in the early hours of June 10. His family received a call from the police to collect the body, but when they went to the hospital, they were in for a shock.
"First, the staff refused to cooperate. Later, they said that they were arranging the body and asked us to make arrangements for the burial. We spoke to all the people concerned, informed our local MLA and corporator and got a grave ready. We followed all the protocol and dug the hole," one of Rashed's brothers said in a video, recorded at midnight on June 10.
"When we checked with Gandhi Hospital after that, it turned out that the body was not found. We personally checked 18 dead bodies at the mortuary but none of them was his," he added.
On Thursday morning, Rashed's family approached authorities and after an investigation, it was revealed that his body was given away wrongly to another family, who had completed burying him in the city's Pahadishareef area.
"We are on our way to the grave. We are numb. This is a blunder by authorities. We will take a call on whether to file a police complaint or not by today evening. The body of the other family's kin is still at Gandhi Hospital and they are claiming it," Rashed's brother, Faizan, told TNM on Thursday evening.
According to his family, Rashed, a father of four children, was suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure. Earlier this week, after a lung infection was detected, he was admitted at a private hospital on June 7. On June 8, he was shifted to a ventilator and by June 9, the hospital management referred him to the Gandhi Hospital.
After completing all due procedures, the family returned home on the night of June 9 as Gandhi Hospital is exclusively treating coronavirus patients and attenders are not allowed into the wards. However, he passed away within 24 hours of being admitted.
"We need action. We don't know how many such cases have happened. How can they do this? Are't they responsible? They have given us the death certificate, but then where is the body?" Rashed's brother said in the video.
Usually as per procedure, Gandhi Hospital releases a body after the family identifies the person. While there was no official statement from the hospital on the incident yet, authorities may fault the other family saying they mistakenly claimed the wrong body.
Important point to be noted - Gandhi Hospital officials said that a dead body is released only after kin of the dead person identifies the body.— Nilesh TNIE (@Nilesh_TNIE) June 11, 2020
So, according to the hospital, blame falls on the family that identified the body of a different person as their kin and buried it
Amjed Ullah Khan from the Majlis Bachao Tehreek (MBT) demanded a high-level enquiry into the incident by the Crime Investigation Department (CID).
This is not the first time either that such an incident has been reported from Gandhi Hospital, which is the nodal centre designated by the state government for COVID-19 treatment.
Just earlier this week, a body was mistakenly carried up to the graveyard in Hyderabad before the wife of the deceased found that it was not her husband's corpse following which it was taken back to the Gandhi Hospital mortuary. The 57-year-old man, a resident of Begumpet in the city, succumbed to the virus on June 8.
Last month, a woman alleged that she was first told that her husband had died of COVID-19, but later, authorities said that he was alive. When she checked again after a few days, they claimed that he had died and that his body had been cremated. The woman, Alampally Madhavi, moved the High Court and filed a habeas corpus petition, asking the state government to clarify her doubts.
Madhavi, who along with her two daughters had tested positive for COVID-19, was discharged from Gandhi Hospital on May 16 and said that no one from her family was approached by officials.