KARACHI: After spending her last several days in a vegetative state at an intensive care unit of a private hospital in Karachi, nine-month-old baby girl Nashwa Ali, who had suffered severe brain damage due to the
administration of a concentrated drug at another private hospital, passed away on Monday morning.
“With profound grief and regret, we announce that baby Nashwa Ali passed away at 9:30am after her blood oxygen level started dropping. With the permission from the parents, her physicians decided not to resuscitate the child as it was of no use,” said Anjum Rizvi, a spokesperson for the Liaquat National Hospital Karachi.
Nashwa had suffered severe brain damage when an untrained staff member at the Darul Sehat Hospital had allegedly administered her a concentrated injection of KCl or potassium chloride, a compound that was supposed to be given in a minute quantity in a diluted form drop by drop to provide potassium to the body as she had been suffering from severe diarrhoea.
Moving scenes were witnessed at the residence of the ill-fated family after her body was shifted there for the last time before the burial. A large number of relatives, family friends, general public and media persons gathered at the house to console the grieving family. “My daughter fought to live but she lost her battle today. We are not living in a good society where we could save our children. Nashwa has gone but please do something to save other children,” Qaiser Ali, Nashwa’s father, said in a trembling voice with tears in his eyes outside his residence.
Earlier, the body of the deceased girl was taken to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) for an autopsy where a team of medico-legal experts comprising Police Surgeon Dr Karar Abbassi, Prof Farhat Mirza and Dr Samia Tariq conducted the autopsy and preserved samples for chemical examination.
“A medical board comprising me, Prof Farhat Mirza and Dr Samia Tariq has performed the autopsy of the deceased child and preserved samples for chemical examination. We are sending the samples to the Dow University lab for chemical examination to ascertain Nashwa’s cause of death,” Dr Abbassi told newsmen outside the JPMC.
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah also expressed his sorrow at the death of the infant girl and assured that her parents would be delivered justice. “We were planning to move the baby girl abroad for treatment but unfortunately she could not survive,” he said.
Former Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) leader Farooq Sattar and MQM-P leader Faisal Subzwari also visited Nashwa’s house. Expressing their condolences to the family, they demanded that the government take stern action against the hospital where she was given wrong treatment.
The funeral prayers for Nashwa were offered at a mosque in Gulistan-e-Jauhar which were attended by hundreds of people, including many political leaders.
Sindh Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani, Pakistan People’s Party leader Aajiz Dhamra, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Khurrum Sher Zaman, MQM-P’s Khawaja Izhar ul Hassan, Asif Hasnain, rights activist Jibran Nasir and others attended the funeral prayers. Nashwa was later laid to rest at a local graveyard.
Three parallel investigations are under way against the Darul Sehat Hospital Karachi, where the baby girl was administered the drug in a wrong manner. The investigations are being carried out by the police, the health department and the Sindh Healthcare Commission (SHCC).
The police have also taken four employees of the hospital, including a doctor, into their custody.
SHCC Chief Executive Officer Dr Minhaj Qidwai said upon receiving the complaint of Nashwa’s father, the commission inspected the hospital and found several gaps in its healthcare delivery system. “The staff which treated the child was also not trained. We are finalising our report, which would be presented to the Sindh health department and the government for action,” he added.
Legal and health experts say that the death of a patient at a health facility due to negligence amounts to unintentional murder and the police can take action against the perpetrators of the crime as per relevant sections of the law. However, proving negligence in a court of law is a time consuming process.
A District East judicial magistrate on Monday remanded three Darul Sehat Hospital staffers in police custody and sent one staff member to jail in the case pertaining to giving wrong treatment to Nashwa.
Police produced the four arrested suspects, including nurse Sobia, nursing manager Atif, admin officer Ahmar and male nurse Agha Moiz, before the magistrate to seek their remand for interrogation into the case of administering high dose of a chemical to the nine-month-old girl. A lawyer representing Nashwa’s father argued that the police were showing leniency towards the suspects as neither did they complete their paperwork for the case nor did they arrest the doctor who was handling the child’s case.
The prosecutor told the magistrate that the investigation was under way for which the custody of the suspects was required. Approving the plea, the magistrate sent three male suspects on physical remand and the female suspect to jail. The court summoned the progress report on April 25.