Hers is an essentially tragic story. Her story can make stones cry. Aruna Shanbaug passed away yesterday. The newspaper today morning had a number of stories that spoke about the life and death of Aruna. Here I am not getting into the whole talk of euthanasia – passive or active. Aruna who lied in a vegetative state for 42 long years was looked after by the wonderful nurses of KEM hospital (where she worked and was sexually assaulted which in turn led her to this miserable condition).
One fact that moved me deeply in this gut-wrenching story of human suffering. And that’s the nurses of Mumbai’s KEM hospital looked after Aruna for 42 long years and there was not a single bedsore in all these years. Forty-two years on bed and still she didn’t have a single bed sore If you haven’t looked after a terminally ill person or a person in vegetative state, you will not realise the enormity of this singular fact. There can’t be a better story of love, care and gentleness. Florence Nightingale would have been proud of the sisters of KEM hospital.
While rejecting the mercy killing petition filed on behalf of Aruna Shanbaug, the Supreme Court observed in its March 7, 2011 ruling: “It must be put on record that in the world history of medicine, there would not be another single case where such a person is cared and nurtured in bed for so long, and has not developed a single bedsore. This speaks volumes of the excellence of care that the KEM nursing staff has given to her. This care is given not as a part of duty but as a part of feeling of oneness.”
Aruna Shanbaug’s death has liberated her from immense suffering. May her soul rest in peace. I hope, the love, care and tenderness shown by the nurses will inspire many of us to be large-hearted, loving and gentle care-givers. May the terminally ill patients across the world be lucky to receive this kind of pure love and care.