This Article is From Oct 11, 2011

Baby dies after woman is forced to deliver on footpath

Mumbai: A 22-year-old woman was forced to deliver a baby on a street in Mumbai in the dead of night after a hospital denied her admission. Owing to lack of any medical care, the baby could not survive for more than a few hours. (Comment here)

The incident happened outside the BMC-run Bhabha Hospital in Kurla (West). The hospital has seen three such incidents in the last three months.

Tabassum Sohrab Shaikh delivered a baby boy outside the hospital around 1:30 am on Monday. She was refused admission in the hospital when she was in labour and hence was forced to deliver the baby on the footpath opposite to the hospital.

Firoze Maniyal, a bystander, said, "I live near the hospital. I was woken up in the dead of night by the sounds of a screaming woman. I, and many of my neighbours, rushed out to see that the woman, quite young, had fallen on the footpath opposite the hospital and was crying out because she was in labour. People who had cars parked them in front of her so that she could be shielded while delivering the baby."

In the open
Shaikh, a resident of Narayan Nagar in Ghatkopar (West), was in labour when she had arrived at the hospital around 11 pm on Sunday. But the on duty resident medical officers told her to go to Sion hospital and get a sonography done. Accompanied by a kin, she did as she was told, and returned to Bhabha hospital with the reports at 1 am, but was turned away again. 

Shaikh's uncle, Tausher, said, "The doctors at Bhabha hospital, anticipating a breech birth, told Tabassum to either go to KEM or Sion hospital saying that the delivery would be a difficult one. The poor girl delivered on the road near a coconut shop. A crowd had gathered. Only after they created a hue and cry did the hospital admit her. But in the morning, they said that her baby boy was serious, and later informed us that he had died. We have not told Shaikh yet; she will be shattered if she gets to know." It was after two years of marriage that Shaikh had conceived. Her husband, who works in Dubai, had come recently for the delivery of their first child.

She doesn't know
Back at the hospital, Shaikh was under the impression that her baby was in the ICU.

"I don't want to make an issue about this. My baby and I are fine. Yes it is true that women should not be left to deliver on the road, but I am happy that I had a normal delivery," she said, unaware of the tragedy.

Tabassum was a patient at the hospital for all of nine months. "The doctors said that they would not be able to perform my sonography and my delivery, which caused me a little stress. But since today morning, they have been treating me very well."

Third such case
This is the third incident at the hospital where a pregnant woman was forced to deliver her baby outside its premises. Some 20 days ago, a woman was forced to deliver in a moving cab because the hospital had refused to admit her. Three months ago, another woman was turned away and had to deliver outside the hospital.

But on these previous two occasions, both the mothers and the their babies were lucky enough to make it alive.

Protest on cards
Bilkis Shaikh, a woman rights activist from a local NGO, said, "If no action is taken against the lapse in the treatment of pregnant women at Bhabha hospital, the women of the area will stage a protest outside the hospital. It is a shame that a mother was forced to give birth on the road outside a hospital and had to suffer the loss of her child."

The other side
Dr MV Wadiwala, medical superintendent of Bhabha hospital was not available for comment. Dr Paul, senior medical officer, said, "We have initiated an inquiry into the matter. No patient should be turned away by a hospital. The two RMOs on duty have received memos. As for the sonography, the sonographist at our hospital is not available in the night. So Tabassum Shaikh was sent to Sion hospital. We should have provided the woman an ambulance to Sion hospital, but failed to do that."