Until 7.55am on Friday, Suchitra Sen was conscious and responding to treatment, and then suddenly the monitor attached to the bed in room No. 207 on the second floor of Belle Vue Clinic showed a sharp dip in her heartbeat.
Within half an hour, the heart-throb of many, many cine-goers passed away, ending a 26-day agonising battle with death.
"Suddenly, her heart rate fell drastically to 40 per minute and she was gasping for breath. She was breathing only five times a minute — and that’s abnormally low. It’s expected to be about 18 times for a normal human being,” Dr Saswata Mukherjee, told Hindustan Times.
His colleague, Dr Nirmal Kar, was the only other person present. “Her breathing became extremely laboured. She appeared to be in extreme pain as she clenched her fist, gripping the bedsheet,” Dr Mukherjee said.
“We started administering emergency medicines, such as atropine and adrenaline, and emergency back-ups like nebuliser to resuscitate the heart. We also gave her a drug to pump up her blood pressure,” the doctor said.
For a moment, it seemed to work. The heart rate rose and the blood pressure shot up. “We heaved a sigh of relief,” Mukherjee said. But it turned out to be a five-minute wonder. “At 8.20am, her heart rate began falling sharply again. It came down to about 20 beats per minute as opposed to the normal 70-80 range. We desperately started cardio-pulmonary compression with our hands. But all our efforts failed and
,” he added in a grief-stricken voice.
As the body of the elderly woman with a shock of white hair lay motionless before him, the cold, hard-nosed professional in Mukherjee gave way. “I realized that I had become a part of history — a very sad piece of history,” he said.
When he found Suchitra sinking, Dr Mukherjee telephoned her daughter, Moon Moon. But
passed away before her daughter could reach.