Aruna Shanbaug passes away

Published on May 18, 2015 12:21:21 PM
Aruna Shanbaug, a former nurse of King Edward Memorial, who was raped in 1973 and was battling for her life since 42 years, passed away at 9.30 am on Monday.

Shanbaug was in the Intensive Care Unit of KEM Hospital. Few days ago, she was diagnosed with pneumonia and was kept on life support system. 

A gloomy cloud descended on the hospital as she passed away. Nurses were hoping that she will defeat the ailment and celebrate her 68th birthday which falls in the first week of June.

 A room outside ward 4 was her home since 1973. Years ago, she was raped brutally by a ward boy named Sohanlal Bartha Valmiki. At the time of the incident, Valmiki almost strangulated her using a dog chain intending to finish her off. It led to serious damage to her brain cells, made her blind and drew her to paralyzed state.

Since then, the hospital nurses adopted her and took her responsibility. A petition for euthanasia or mercy killing for Aruna became a topic of national debate. Author Pinky Virani, who wrote the book 'Aruna's Story,' filed the petition, arguing that keeping her alive violated her right to live with dignity. However, the members of KEM hospital strongly opposed the petition and the court rejected the plea of mercy killing.
 ''I was associated with her care for almost 10 years when I was working for KEM. Nurses would clean, feed; change her clothes, not mechanically. They would talk to her... While trying to clean her mouth, by chance she would bite a finger," recalls Dr Pragna Pai, former Dean at KEM Hospital.

The KEM staff was like a family to Aruna as she was lying in a vegetative state without sight. Maybe they will accept the fact of her death over a time, but she will always live in their memories.