Aruna Shanbaug, the KEM Hospital nurse who has been lying in a vegetative state for the past 42 years, is critical and on ventilator support. Doctors at Mumbai's KEM Hospital said her condition is "critical but stable" after she was diagnosed with pneumonia, less than two years after her first bout of lung infection.
The 67-year-old former nurse is now recuperating in the medical intensive care unit (MICU) at the hospital in Parel.
"She is on ventilator support but her condition is improving," said Dr Avinash Supe, dean of KEM Hospital. She was shifted to the MICU three days ago after she experienced difficulty in breathing.
Dr Supe added that a team of doctors is working round-the-clock and attempts are being made to wean her off the ventilator.
"Nurses are continuously on her duty. She had difficulty in breathing and we informed the doctors who decided to put her on oxygen support. And later it was decided to shift her to MICU," said a source from the hospital.
Shanbaug has been lying in a vegetative state for the last 42 years, after she was assaulted and strangulated by a hospital sweeper on November 27, 1973.
In December 2013, Shanbaug was admitted to the hospital's medical intensive care unit (MICU) for the same reason- lung infection. Fortunately, her health improved then and she was shifted back to the small room near ward number four, which has been her home for all these years. Hospital authorities had recently refurbished the room.
After the brutal sexual assault incident in 1973, Shanbaug has not had many visitors. Her relatives have stopped visiting and the hospital nurses have been taking care of her since. Nurses and doctors visit her on her birthday on June 1. "No one from her family has visited her," said Dr Supe.
In March 2011, the Supreme Court had rejected a petition filed by author Pinki Virani seeking mercy killing for Shanbaug. The hospital management and nursing staff had also opposed the petition. Virani has written a book on Shanbaug. Nurses and doctors, who have come in contact with her, said that although she is not aware of the surrounding, she recognises the presence of people.
Aruna Shanbaug's history:
* Aruna Shanbaug hails from Haldipur in Karnataka and had come to Mumbai after she landed a job as a nurse at KEM Hospital. She stayed with her sister Shanta Nayak for at least a month at the Worli chawl and would visit them regularly until the horrific incident took place.
* Shanbaug was admitted in the hospital after she was assaulted and strangulated by a KEM Hospital sweeper on November 27, 1973.
* She suffered brain damage as a result of attack. Since then, she is confined to the side-room of ward-4 of KEM Hospital.
* Nayak, her sister and Shanbaug's sole relative died in September 2013. Hospital employees say her relatives had stopped visiting her few years after the incident. Since then, the nurses and doctors have cared for her.
* In March 2011, the Supreme Court had rejected a petition filed by author Pinki Virani seeking mercy killing for Shanbaug, which the hospital's management and nursing staff had opposed. Virani has written a book on Shanbaug.
* Shanbaug is fed through a feeding tube. Nurses say that she is fond of fish.