A day before the Supreme Court’s verdict on whether former nurse Aruna Shanbaug should be allowed to live, the staff at KEM Hospital is hopeful that the patient, who has stayed at the hospital the longest, continues to stay here.
The hospital staff has opposed the mercy killing plea made on behalf of Shanbaug, a nurse who has been in a vegetative state since a hospital sweeper sodomised her in November 1973.
The staff of the hospital has cared for Shanbaug since that November night. They say that despite being bedridden for 37 years, Shanbaug does not have a single bedsore.
“The SC’s initial indications are positive. They complimented KEM Hospital for the care given to Aruna. Even the government lawyer has opposed euthanasia,” said Dr Sanjay Oak, dean of KEM Hospital. “We are doing our duty and hope to continue doing it.”
Nurses work in shifts to care for Shanbaug, who lies in a room on the ground floor of the hospital building.
Every day, at 6 am, they give Shanbaug a sponge bath and then breakfast. She loves non-vegetarian food including chicken and fish, they say. A cassette player in her room plays spiritual songs.
“The staff loves her. We hope that the legal decision takes into account the emotions of people caring for her for the last 37 years,” said Dr Shubhangi Parkar, head of the hospital’s psychiatry department.
Dr RR Shinde, professor and head of the department of preventive and social medicine, said Shanbaug responds very well to external stimulus. “And that indicates life,” he said.