Apollo: nothing AIIMS: cocaine
Cocaine and traces of thallium were found in Vivek Moitra’s body at AIIMS, just hours after Apollo Hospital announced that Rahul Mahajan, whose party he was at, had “conclusively tested negative for drugs.”
The Apollo report also found no traces of alcohol in Rahul’s urine sample, though low amounts were found in his blood samples. Witnesses, including the servants at his Safdarjang Lane residence, said he had been drinking champagne till late at night.
However, a doctor in the department of forensic medicine at AIIMS said, “We found cocaine and traces of thallium in Moitra’s body. The autopsy report says Moitra died of cardio-pulmonary failure.”
Thallium is a metal described by forensic experts as slow poison that over time could lead to multi-organ failure. It is found in rat poison, which is sometimes used to adulterate cocaine. “We have sent our report to the police and only after the viscera report comes in will we be able to determine the cause of death. The report could take anything from a fortnight to a month,” says Dr T.D. Dogra, head of forensic medicine, AIIMS.
Rahul was taken off the ventilator this morning and his heart rate, blood pressure and all other vital parameters are stable. He continues to be on non-invasive ventilation support to assist his breathing.
While a battery of toxicology tests for 13 drugs and one poison (organic phosphate) at Apollo did determine conclusively that drugs did not cause his near fatal collapse on Friday morning, the tests could not determine what had actually caused the symptoms that were uncannily similar to drug overdose.
“The toxic screen was negative so we do not know what caused the clinical symptoms of multiple organ damage. We are satisfied with the toxic screening results that we tested him for,” says Dr Anupam Sibal, director, hospital services, Apollo Hospitals.
Incidentally, the five-member team incharge of Rahul’s recovery is headed by Dr Voleti Prasad Rao, who also headed the team that treated former power minister P.R. Kumaramangalam in 2000.
Apollo had been mysteriously confused about the cause of Kumaramangalam’s illness too.
Experts say the toxicolgy results depend upon the drug or poison used, how long after use the sample was taken, and the quality of the testing laboratory.
"Testing urine samples is the most conclusive way of testing for drugs, and if there is any doubt about the findings, the sample can be sent out for confirmation even two to three days after drug use.
In the case of snorting a drug, traces in the nasal mucosal lining can also confirm use,” says Dr Navin Dang, specialist in laboratory medicine, Dr Dang’s Laboratory. “Urine sample is the best bet as gastric lavage will most probably not confirm drug use,” he adds.
Apollo says it ran Rahul’s samples through Dr Lal’s PathLabs, another private diagnostic laboratory, for confirmation. Rahul’s urine samples were not sent to any central or state lab.