When the floods wreaked havoc in Kashmir and plunged most parts of the Valley into darkness, few doctors at a lone maternity care hospital in Srinagar, lent a ray of light to people's lives by performing birth surgeries under candlelight.
Doctors at the Lal Ded Hospital, whose ground floor was submerged by flood waters from Jhelum, performed six deliveries under the candlelight as the electricity supply to the hospital was snapped on September 6, and the generator stopped working the very next day. "Since electricity was snapped on Saturday evening and genset stopped working as water entered into it on Sunday morning, we had to perform deliveries under candlelight later that day," Medical Superintendent, Lal Ded Hospital, Mushtaq Ahmad Rather told PTI.
He said a team of doctors led by Head of Department (HoD), Gynaecology, Shehnaz Taing performed four normal deliveries and two Lower Segment Caesarean Section (LSCS) on six women under the candlelight on Sunday evening. "The procedures involved high risk, but thankfully, by the grace of god, all the six babies and their mothers were fine when they were shifted from here," Rather said. The medical superintendent said the procedures were not an easy task as the oxygen supply and sterilisation set-up had been affected by the floods.
"We had kept the portable oxygen cylinders on standby to meet any emergency," he said. Rather said despite the floods affecting the normal functioning of the hospital, it witnessed no deaths. "There were no deaths in the hospital after the flood waters entered here till the patients were shifted to safety," he said. The doctor said even as they were cut-off from the rest of the world, they did not let the patients or their attendants suffer.
"Most of my staff had no information about their families. We did not know what had happened to them and no one from outside reached us. But we did not let the patients or their attendants suffer and managed from whatsoever limited resources, including drugs, we had here," he said. He credited his staff, family members of the patients and local volunteers for displaying "exemplary courage" in dealing with the situation. "We had nowhere to go.
No one came to our rescue. A few local youth came to us asking if we needed any help. I told them we needed some food items like biscuits and water and most importantly we need candles," he said. The superintendent said the hospital staff, along with attendants of patients, cooked 'khichidi' that was served to all. More than 3,500 babies were born in government hospitals in Kashmir at the peak of devastating floods that has affected most of the tertiary care hospitals in the Valley.