KOCHI: The death of activist Ananya Kumari Alex, 28, the first transgender candidate in the state to contest the assembly elections, has snowballed into a controversy after her friends and family members alleged negligence by Renai Medicity, where she underwent sex reassignment surgery.Members from the transgender community staged a protest in front of the hospital on Wednesday demanding action against the authorities. Ananya was found hanging in her apartment in Edappally on Tuesday.
The hospital has refuted the allegations and absolved the team that carried out the surgery of any lapses.Meanwhile, the government swung into action with Health Minister Veena George and Social Justice Minister R Bindu ordering separate investigations into the circumstances that led to Ananya’s death.
Ananya had undergone the surgery at the hospital a year ago. Her recent social media post revealed she was suffering from immense pain and facing several issues following the surgery.
“There was clear negligence by the hospital and the doctor who performed the surgery. Ananya’s death is mysterious and she should get justice. Action must be taken against the hospital authorities for negligence,” said Shyama S Prabha, a transwoman activist. “The emotional trauma she underwent after the surgery was beyond imagination and certainly played a part in her death,” said Nadira Mehrin, another transgender activist. The Kalamassery police have registered a case of unnatural death in the incident.
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Ananya’s postmortem, which was scheduled for Wednesday, was postponed after Ananya’s father and members of the community submitted a petition before the Kalamassery police demanding that the autopsy be conducted only by an expert medical panel. The community members filed another petition in Palarivattom police station demanding a stop to sex reassignment surgeries at Renai Medicity.
“Even while undergoing treatment at the hospital, she had experienced pain. She said she was not getting proper attention by doctors and medical staff. When I spoke to her three weeks ago, she said she was facing the same physical problems and pain,” said S Alexander, her father. Authorities of Renai Medicity refuted the allegations. The statement by its medical director absolved the team led by Dr Arjun Asokan, who performed the surgery, and Dr Madhu of the Renai Centre for Comprehensive Transgender Health of negligence.
“Though Ananya developed intestinal obstruction—a common known complication of the surgery —after the operation, it was addressed by a procedure. She was satisfied with the treatment at the time of being discharged. It was after 6-7 months of the surgery that she complained about surgically implanted body parts and some urinal issues,” said the statement. It said another surgical procedure was recommended to resolve the issues and she was convinced of going through the follow-up treatment.
“However, she later complained of medical negligence and sought a huge compensation. A medical board which looked into the issue on her demand ruled out any negligence,” said the statement.It said the hospital management was willing to part with her medical documents to help her seek legal recourse. It was also willing to help with her follow-up treatment considering her financial state but declined her other non-legally binding demands,” said the statement.
Minister Veena, who has ordered an immediate investigation into Ananya’s death, said an expert committee will be formed to conduct an in-depth study on sex reassignment surgeries. Transgender activists and their associations had approached Veena seeking her urgent intervention in the matter.
Minister Bindu has also convened a meeting of the Transgender Justice Board on July 23 to decide on the immediate steps to be taken in the wake of the Anannyah’s death and to discuss the problems faced by transgender people in general.
Bindu said the government will take steps to frame guidelines on conducting sex reassignment surgery in a scientific and error-free manner. “Transgender clinics will be set up to handle problems faced by transgender people. Steps will also be taken to curb exploitation and unfair practices in connection with sex reassignment surgeries and other procedures,” Bindu said.