Body swap at Sion Hospital: Kin of mishap victim cry foul

Body swap at Sion Hospital: Kin of mishap victim cry foul

Hospital says due procedure was followed, no organs were retrieved

Dipti Singh Swapnil MishraUpdated: Tuesday, September 15, 2020, 07:38 AM IST
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Sion Hospital | File Image

MUMBAI: A day after the body of accident victim Ankush Surwade, 26, was handed over to the wrong family by the Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General (LTMG-Sion) Hospital,, his family and friends have sought a thorough investigation in the matter. Surwade's friends have cried foul, alleging that the incident is not just a coincidence or a mistake by the mortuary staff.

Surwade's family and friends had created a ruckus in the hospital on Sunday morning, alleging that organs had been removed from the body of the 26-year-old, after they spotted an incision near his abdomen. The family had informed the hospital that it would take custody of the body by 4pm on Sunday. A video of this incident had gone viral.

However, Sion Hospital has denied allegations of organs having been retrieved from the patient (Surwade)'s body, as alleged by his family. Doctors said they had adhered to protocol while performing the post mortems of both deceased on Sunday.

Surwade's distraught elder sister Jayashree had alleged that there was a racket in operation at the hospital. "We suspected that they had removed my brother's kidney. We had told them to keep the body until we returned at 4pm. But when we returned, they told us they could not find the body. This is definitely some kind of racket," she said.

So far, hospital authorities have maintained that the bodies of two persons were accidentally swapped while handing them over to the concerned families. There were two separate cases -- Surwade had died in an accident and in the other instance, Hemant Digambar, 50, had committed suicide. Both bodies were brought to Sion Hospital but there was a mix-up and the Digambars were handed the body of Surwade.

Dr Mohan Joshi, Dean, Sion Hospital, said the accident victim had suffered a head injury, resulting in a huge swelling which had to be removed in order to save his life. Following this, doctors had carried out a decompression craniectomy, in which they removed a portion of the swelling and kept in the upper abdomen. “Basic procedure was followed for saving the life of a patient, in which a small portion of the skull which was swollen was removed and inserted in the upper abdomen, because of which there were stitches. Moreover, we had informed his sister and other family members of this procedure, but they are alleging that organs were retrieved,” he said.

When the brain swells following an injury, the pressure can build inside the skull, causing further damage. Swelling is the body's natural healing response to injury, doctors explained.

"How could this be just a coincidence, that in the morning we question our friend's death and the incision on his body and in the evening, the body goes missing. All this is very strange. The matter should be investigated thoroughly and those involved need to be exposed," said Wilfred Samy, Surwade's best friend and his dance crew mate.

"Anky (Ankush) showed signs of recovery after his first surgery on August 29. He began to move his legs. We were hopeful he would get well, not soon, but recover he would, we thought. Around 2.30am on September 13, we were informed he was no more. The cause of his death was mentioned as cardiac arrest. On the other hand, the parents of the other person (Digambar) are very old. The morturary staff should have been careful and marked the bodies for identification," said Samy.

Explaining the stitches on Surwade's body, doctors at the hospital said the incision was made to obtain visceral samples for further investigation. “We have set up a four-member team to investigate the Sion hospital incident and asked them to submit the report in the next two days. Moreover, without the family's consent, we do not touch deceased patients' organs,” he said. Surwade's viscera sample has been sent to the forensic laboratory at Kalina for investigation.

Viscera is preserved to ascertain the cause of death in cases where autopsies are inconclusive, mostly in suspected cases of poisoning and dowry deaths. In every such case, visceral samples are collected in two jars and must be sent for chemical examination within 15 days of the post mortem.

According to forensic experts, “The visceral sample from the body of the deceased is taken to check whether or not there has been foul play.The forensic department of the hospital has just followed basic protocol by sending the viscera sample for chemical analysis.”

Meanwhile, the BMC has suspended two staff for the mix-up and has said it will take strict action against those found guilty. “There is no kidney racket in civic hospitals. If there is cause for suspicion, strict action will be taken against the culprits,” said an official.

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