A 34-year-old orthopaedic surgeon who had performed a ligament tear surgery on 17-year-old footballer R. Priya, whose eventual death on Tuesday rocked the State, has told Madras High Court that the Periyar Nagar Government Peripheral Hospital operation theatre began functioning only in August this year.
“Ours is a society which did not allow a decent burial even for a COVID warrior”A.D. Jagadish ChandiraJudge, Madras High Court
In an anticipatory bail petition filed before Justice A.D. Jagadish Chandira, the surgeon, K. Somasundar, said that though the theatre with state-of-the-art facilities started functioning only in August, many successful surgeries, including a hip and knee replacement surgery, were conducted there within two months.
The petitioner said he had obtained his MBBS degree from Kilpauk Medical College in 2012 and MS in orthopaedics from Madras Medical College in 2016. Since then, he claimed to have performed 1,500-2,000 surgeries and brought a “miraculous cure” to patients who had met with accidents and others.
He had performed an anterior crucial meniscus ligament tear surgery (ACL repair in common parlance) on the footballer on November 7. Then, he was assisted by another 34-year-old orthopaedic surgeon A. Paul Ramshankar, two anaesthetists, a staff nurse and two operation theatre technicians.
On November 8, the teenager developed complications but he was unable to attend to her immediately because he was performing a total hip replacement surgery on another patient. Dr. Ramshankar rushed to check the footballer, subjected her to scanning and then she was referred to the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (RGGGH).
The girl was at RGGGH as an in-patient from November 8 to 15 and underwent three surgeries, including one for amputation of her right leg. However, the media, without scrutinising the case sheets, surgical notes and other medical records, began to blame the two surgeons for her death, the petitioner lamented.
Dr. Ramshankar, too, filed an anticipatory bail petition on the same lines. However, State Public Prosecutor Hasan Mohammed Jinnah told the court that the investigation into the death of the girl was at a very nascent stage and it would take sometime for the police to find out if there was any criminal negligence on the part of the surgeons.
He urged the court to grant him two weeks for reporting the progress made by the police. Concurring with him, the judge also told counsel for the petitioners that the incident had happened very recently and a young girl had lost her life after a simple surgery for ligament tear.
On the other hand, counsel for the petitioners said the surgeons were receiving threatening phone calls and their lives were in danger. He claimed that the petitioners’ family members, too, had not been spared. Taking serious note of it, the judge asked the SPP to make sure that the petitioners and their family members were protected.
Referring to the tragic incident of a section of residents of Kilpauk in Chennai not having permitted the body of neurosurgeon Simon Hercules to be buried at a local cemetery because he had died during the first wave of COVID-19 in February 2020, the judge said, “Ours is a society which did not allow a decent burial even for a COVID warrior.”