We deal with birth and death daily, but some deaths leave a void, say doctors

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One of the first surgeons to attend to the 23-year-old gangrape victim, who was wheeled into Safdarjung hospital on the night of December 16, later told his senior that the extent of her injuries left him "shell shocked".

"I tried to surgically clean the deep abdominal wounds, but for the life of me, I could not understand where her gut was," the surgeon later said.

A day after the paramedic student died in Singapore, where she was flown for further treatment, doctors at Safdarjung recall a woman with "fighter spirit" who was "unbelievably composed" and "hopeful for the future".

"As doctors we deal with birth and death daily. Yet, some deaths leave a void. Maybe because we get involved with them (the patients) personally, beyond our role as doctors," Medical Superintendent of Safdarjung hospital Dr B D Athani said. The woman spent 11 days at the hospital, before she was flown to Singapore.

A nurse who attended to the woman and interacted with her family said: "Everyone knew that she was in a critical condition. But anybody who spent some time with her or her family would feel that this sudden end to that fighter spirit is just unbelievable. You don't expect to wake up to this news, never."

Dr Aruna Batra, HoD of Gynaecology at the hospital, described the case as "much more than rape or sexual assault". On the abbreviated injury scale, which is designed to identify the mortality associated with injuries, the woman's injuries were rated 25 — the maximum is 75.

"This was in the category of severe wounds, with low chances of survival. There were massive abdominal and genital injuries and the threat of infection was huge. We knew it was a tough battle," Dr M C Misra, chief of AIIMS Trauma Centre, who was integral to the team treating the woman, said.

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