Valley dementia patient on ventilator, doctors want kin to vacate bed

Kashmir hospital

The husband of a dementia patient on life support at the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital (SMHS) here for the past four months has alleged that the doctors have asked him to arrange for a ventilator and shift her home.

"How can I let her die? They are forcing me to remove her from the ventilator," says Sameena's husband, Abdul Rashid, sitting outside the intensive care unit.

The doctors at the hospital say that they have asked him to shift her home because she may get infected in the hospital. "The patient is 99 per cent dead and we have kept her on humanitarian grounds. We are asking him to take her home because she may get infection in the hospital," says Dr Pervez Shah, Head of Department, Neurology, SMHS.

Doctors say that Sameena is the first such case in the hospital. There are only 11 ventilators in the 600-bed hospital. This highlights the plight of such patients, as there's no rehabilitation centre for them.

Several months ago, the family of Sameena (52) took her to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi, for treatment. "She was diagnosed with dementia. The doctors told us to take her to a local hospital," Rashid says. Four months ago, Sameena was taken to the SMHS hospital. "Since then her condition worsened. She lost her speech, stopped swallowing and grew weak. She was put on ventilator," he adds. The only signs of life are her tears. "Her eyes are moist whenever she sees me. Perhaps she recognises me and wants to say something," Rashid says.

He says doctors frequently ask him to remove her from the ventilator. "They have been forcing me and my sons to remove her from the ventilator and take her home. They are asking me to buy a ventilator that costs more than Rs 4 lakh. It is not just about getting a ventilator. It has to be operated professionally. Who will do that in my home?," he says.

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