For Andheri residents, Preeti and Mansukh Waghela, their first-born Hans was the apple of their eye. But on Sunday night they watched in horror as their son breathed his last at the footsteps of a government hospital.
The ordeal began on Sunday evening when Hans ran a temperature and began shivering. The Waghelas rushed him to the family doctor who diagnosed him with pneumonia and advised the parents to take the baby to Nanavati Hospital for immediate treatment.
Mansukh Waghela, who works for an NGO, said, "At Nanavati Hospital he was checked by the doctors and was given an oxygen mask. However, they asked us to take Hans to Babasaheb Gawde Diagnostic Centre, as there was no place at Nanavati to admit him."
The Waghelas rushed Hans to Babasaheb Gawde Diagnostic Centre in Vile Parle (E). There, too, a doctor checked Hans and conveyed their inability to admit him there. The parents were advised to immediately rush to Surya Children's Hospital in Santacruz.
Again, the doctors on duty could not help Hans and the Waghelas were asked to try at Wadia or KEM hospitals. "When we reached there we were told to go to either Wadia or KEM Hospital, as there was no place to admit him here," said Waghela.
Tired and anxious at the deteriorating condition of their son, the Waghelas hurried to Cooper Hospital. However, the young boy could not bear the three-hour ordeal running from one hospital to another and died before reaching Cooper Hospital.
"We rushed to the nearby Cooper Hospital, but fate had it that my son took his last breath at the gate of Cooper at 2.45 am," recalled a shattered Waghela.
"We ran from one hospital to another and each one gave us one excuse after another. They either did not have place to admit my son, or pleaded that they were ill-equipped to handle the case. Every precious moment of that three-hour period pushed my son towards his death. We wouldn't have lost our only child, if he was treated by even one hospital," shared the weeping father.
Hospitals claim they were ill-equipped to treat the child.
"Generally, we don't refuse any patient. All patients are equal to us. On Sunday night, they had come to our hospital but it all the beds were occupied and hence there was no space for the new admission. What can we do in such circumstances? We were helpless. The child's condition was very bad, and needed treatment immediately. Hence we told them to take the child to another hospital," said Dr Ashok Hatolkar, medical superintendent, Nanavati Hospital.
"We really regret that the child died. The child needed a paediatric intensive care unit for treatment and that facility was not available in our hospital. Therefore, we advised them to take him to another hospital. The child was brought to the hospital covered with four blankets. He was having difficulty in breathing. On seeing his condition, we gave him primary treatment," said Shobha Sharma, paediatrician, Surya Children's Hospital.
The death certificate says that Hans died of pneumonia.