Gorakhpur deaths: Parents made to run around for blood, medicines, cotton, now post-mortems

Children admitted at BRD Medical College collapsed before their parents eyes. Parents say they had spent hours trying to get doctors to attend their children, arrange for medicines including basic cotton gauze and glucose injections themselves, running around for blood, and seeking answers. Now, the wait has begun for death certificates and post-mortems. 

On August 7, Brahmdev, 30, a farmer from Bagagada village in Gorakhpur, for the first time noticed the oxygen-level indicator outside the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at BRD Medical College hospital. “There were three levels — normal, high and low. On August 7, the indicator showed low,” says Brahmdev. 

That was four days after he had brought his twins, suffering from high fever, to the hospital. By August 10, Brahmdev and wife Suman’s 10-day-old girl and boy were both dead. 

On August 8 itself, they had realized something was wrong, Brahmdev says. The nursing staff inside the NICU had started using “ambu bag” — a hand-held device to provide ventilation to patients not breathing adequately. “By the next day, I had seen deaths of four kids,” he says, the most in one day since he had come to the hospital. “No parent could ask a question. No parent could go inside. We stood helpless watching the children suffer.” 

He says he tried to question the nursing staff about the indicator showing low levels of oxygen. “The staff did not respond.” By then, Brahmdev adds, some children had also been put on glucose. 

“On August 8 and 9, they asked me to get 30 ml and 40 ml of blood. I went to the blood bank and donated my blood to get it. I asked them what had happened, again they did not speak a word,” the father says. “At 8 pm on August 9, they just came to me and told me my son had died. They handed over the body and told me to take it. No doctor told me why my son had died. I knew something had gone wrong,” Brahmdev says.