Former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa was given the best possible treatment and was intermittently conscious during her prolonged hospitalisation, a team of doctors said on Monday, seeking to quell swirling rumours surrounding the AIADMK leader’s death.
The statement by the team of doctors who treated Jayalalithaa came a day after her long-time confidante Sasikala Natarajan was named as the leader of the AIADMK, paving the way for her to become the chief minister.
The cloak of secrecy surrounding Jayalalithaa’s health during the hospitalisation and her death on December 5 had sparked allegations that she wasn’t given proper treatment and led to conspiracy theories in the state.
London-based specialist Richard Beale told reporters in Chennai that Jayalalithaa had sepsis when she was brought into Apollo Hospital in September in a conscious state the source of infection was unknown.
The infection had led to severe organ damage, which combined with her chronic diabetes and hypertension, had caused deterioration in Jayalalithaa’s health.
“The process of treatment was straightforward. There was no conspiracy,” Beale said, adding that any questions of exhuming the body were “ridiculous”.
Beale said he met Natarajan on a number of occasions.
“Sasikala was present much of the time and was closely engaged in the care in supportive manner,” Beale said.
“It was a completely unexpected cardiac arrest…why? We don’t know. For someone in their more mature years, hypertension and diabetes, recovering sepsis may have contributed,” said Beale, who had been flown in from London for the treatment.
Beale was flanked by P Balaji of Madras Medical College and K Babu of Apollo Hospitals, who had signed in election forms on which her thumb impression was taken.
Balaji said the former CM was fully conscious when she put her thumb impression on the poll papers.
“She was talking, eating, interacting with officials for about a week… her sepsis made her tired, her breathing was getting worse… she was put on a ventilator and sleeping medicines…for 10 days she wasn’t able to communicate continuously…but she did so by signs…after we conducted a tracheostomy, she was awake for 10-12 days awake and communicating by sign and lip reading,” said Balaji.
“She was completely aware and interacting for days,” said Beale. He added that there no questions of releasing photographs of Jayalalithaa arose because it would breach privacy and confidentiality. No CCTV footage existed, he added.
The doctors said she intermittently talked to the medical staff about what she liked to watch on TV, food and her rehabilitation.
“At a personal level, it was clear to me what a most remarkable lady she was. It was a privilege to be involved in her care. I could sense her dedication,” said Beale
She was eating curd rice and watching television when she suffered the “unexpected” cardiac arrest which was witnessed, doctors said. “She was given CPR for 20 minutes but when it failed, she was put on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation for 24 hours. It was then we realised that continuing care was futile. It was relayed to senior government officials and family,” Balaji said.
(With agency inputs)
(With agency inputs)