Testing time for women: Operated mothers re-stitched after escaping floodwaters

  • Peerzada Ashiq, Hindustan Times, Srinagar
  • Updated: Sep 25, 2014 15:30 IST

When Sara Bano (name changed) was shifted in the dead of night on September 7 from flooded lone maternity care hospital, Lal Ded in Srinagar's Wazirbagh area, to safe district hospital of the Jawahar Lal Nehru Memorial (JLNM), her hours old baby was safe but the mother's stitches had gave in while being carried on a stretcher to a boat to a vehicle. She was re-stitched like many others.

For expecting mothers, the valley floods turned out to be the most trying and unexpected times.

"We re-stitched operated mothers in at least seven cases. They were admitted bleeding during Sunday night and on Monday. Around 15 babies were saved due to timely intervention," Dr Syed Faheem Bukhari told the HT.

He along with gynaecologists- Dr Sabeena and Dr Rukhsana- hold the fort for three days, with operation theatre working round the clock. They decided to stay, put there only and attended to 60 delivery cases in most pressing times with little manpower and resources.

"Fifteen high-risk cases, otherwise super-speciality hospital cases, were operated here only. There was no point referring these cases to any other hospital as none was accessible due to floods," said Dr Bukhari, whose sister and uncle were also stranded and untraced in Gogji Bagh area. "All were suffering. We had to carry on with our duties," he added.

JLNM was the only district hospital in Srinagar not hit by floods. Dozens of expecting mothers were shifted from the leading maternity Lal Ded Hospital for deliveries from September 7 to 9, when the valley was battling the worst floods swarming Srinagar after more than a century.

"Around 200 caesarian sections were conducted during the crisis time, more than 60 on first three days," said JLNM superintendent Dr Iqbal Ahmad.

On September 12, five gynaecologists and two theatre assistants were airlifted to relieve the exhausted staff. "The hospital was able to attend to patients with only half the staff as the rest were stranded or unable to reach," he said.

The hospital secured diesel from Ladakh and moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq provided 150 litres to keep the theatre running.

However, another expecting mother, Anisa Jan (named changed), had to rely on traditional midwives only. "We helped in normal deliveries in three cases. We could not arrange doctors immediately so sought help of elderly women," said Habibullah Jeelani, in-charge relief with the Awami Action Committee, in the old city.

One can gauge the enormity of the times that several delivery cases were attended under candle light at the Lal Ded Hospital. Officials claim Srinagar registered 2,297 normal deliveries and 1260 caesarian sections during the crisis time.

Hospitals in Srinagar continue to battle even after three weeks. While officials resumed duties, poor infrastructure hampers the services.

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