Gorakhpur hospital tragedy: As panic grips disillusioned and dejected parents, doctors wait and watch

Saurabh Sharma | Aug 13, 2017 | 6 min read


Unnerved parents want children out of BRD; hospital not prepared to do so

By Saurabh Sharma

Gorakhpur: Mohammad Sajjad, 30, is teary-eyed but emphatic. “I want to discharge my child admitted here. Please help me Sir, please,” he pleaded in the local dialect. “Mujhe meri beti se mila do. Doctor sahab mujhe usse milne nahi de rahe hai aur,” he told First Post. “I won't ever forget this help.”

Sajjad is not the only parent who is disillusioned with BRD Hospital, Gorakhpur. The panic is complete, total. Most of the parents this reporter spoke to wanted to take their children to another hospital, or home. Many parents of children still admitted in the hospital told First Post they had lost confidence in the hospital. They said they felt helpless and hopeless. Even though most of them cannot afford, they are ready to go to private hospital for treatment.

Since August 9, 52 children have died in BRD. But the hospital has refused to discharge any of the 284 children still admitted in the hospital.


Sajjad is one of many parents who spent the night of August 10 on their feet. A total of 23 children died that dark night.

“There was panic all around. Parents were shouting and weeping. Doctors were running around shouting there is no oxygen, the children will die,” said Sajjad. “Sahab wo raat 10 saal ke barabar thi."

On Sunday, Manju Devi Sharma, 40, of Golghar, Gorakhpur forcibly got her daughter discharged from the hospital. The rising death toll of children unnerved her. "My daughter Pinky (7) is in lot of pain. We are here from Tuesday last. Pinky’s health has deteriorated and the behavior of the doctors here is atrocious. I did not want Pinky to die here," Manju Devi told First Post.


Ram Ashish, a resident of Ram Kola in Kushinagar district, has been staying at BRD Medical College for the last 12 days. His five-month-old son Kush has been hit by AES and is not recuperating. A cycle mechanic, he said he wouldn’t have brought his son to BRD but for financial constraints. "BRD doctors treat us parents like we’re animals,” he said. “My mother and my wife have returned to the village to get hold of some money. I want to take my son to another hospital.”


Treatment in a private hospital can run up to Rs 3 lakh. The poor parents would not be able to admit them in private hospitals. They just want to return home with a living child.


Pagarbasantpur resident Pintu Kumar also wants to take his daughter, admitted in the hospital for the last six days, home. "If death is the only option, why should I let her die in this hospital, I might as well take her home,” the 34-year-old farmer said. “The hospital is not allowing me to take her home.” ‘Don’t know if she’s dead or alive,’


The teary-eyed Mohammad Sajjad, who wants his 10-day-old unnamed daughter discharged from BRD, is a resident of Padrauna in neighbouring Kushinagar district.A short man with a beard, he looks tired and worn out. "What can I say, I don’t even know if my child is alive or dead,” he said.  

He runs a small retail shop in Padrauna and farms on 12 biswa land he owns in Mishrauli village, 12 km from his rented house in Padrauna. He said his makes around Rs 7000 per month.

"She is my second born. My elder daughter is healthy and happy by the grace of God. Please help me get my child back," he prayed on his feet. “I brought my daughter to BRD hospital on August 5. She was burning with fever,” he said. "It took four hours to get her admitted. Registration took that long.” But now he feels it was not worth.

Junior resident doctor, NICU, Dr Chandra Prakash Dubey said Sajjad’s daughter was critical but with chances of recovery. “No one other than hospital staff is allowed entry to NICU. The children are vulnerable to infections,” he told First Post. “The kids are in great pain. Please try to understand.”

Gorakhpur is UP chief minister Yogi Adityanand’s assembly constituency. The famous Gorakhnath Temple is also situated here.  


BRD or Baba Raghav Das Medical College has been in the news for the deaths of children due to alleged non-supply of oxygen. Opposition parties are calling the deaths “murder”. On Thursday last, the hospital posted on its medical bulletin that 23 children had died of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES), Japanese Encephalitis and other reasons.


Nothing seems to change them their decision. Not the intervention of the Union Ministry of Health nor an assurance from chief minister Adityanand that things will return to normal and strict action will be taken against erring individuals and entities.

Parmatma Prasad Gautam’s month-old nephew Roshan, who Parmatma had adopted, was one of the 23 children who died on the dark night of August 10. The death certificate read “Multiple organ failure”. Roshan was brought to the hospital on August 9 with “high fever not coming down”.

"We first took him to a local doctor who prescribed some oral syrups. The fever did not come down. So, we brought him to BRD,” said Parmatma. "Roshan died on the night of August 10,” said Parmatma.

A resident of Bhatauli village in Siddharthnagar district, about 100 km from Gorakhpur, Parmatma said he called up a family member to “dig a grave in the fields” but not to tell his aged mother of the death of her grandson.

"Amma ke na batayi ki Roshan mar gail hai. Amma buddhi hai sadma na bardaasht kar paai," Parmatma was heard speaking on the phone. A bachelor, Parmatma is from a family of farmers.

The 900-bed Baba Raghav Das Medical College is the only medical college in this border area. The hospital caters to a population of nearly two crore.

“There is pressure on every single staff. People from Bihar and Nepal also bring their children here. Most bring the child when he/she is critical," said Dr Kafil Khan, head of the Pediatrics Department. “Every single death of a child is an irrecoverable loss.”

Medical college superintendent Dr R S Shukla said as of Sunday 284 children were still there in the Pediatrics Department and a team of 80 doctors was keeping watch on them.

(Saurabh Sharma is a Lucknow based freelance writer and a member of 101Reporters, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters.)



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