BHUBANESWAR: Time will pass and cyclone Fani will recede to the corner of the mind as a faint memory but the team of doctors, nurses and attendants at the Sick and New Born Care Unit (SNCU) of Capital Hospital will remain etched as symbol of hope, inspiration and the selfless spirit of humanity.
As Fani pounded Bhubaneswar, tearing the city apart, the unsung heroes formed a bulwark against its ferocious assault to save 23 newborn babies from the grip of death. It was around half past noon on the Black Friday, when the cyclone began to bring down the ceiling of the SNCU. But the 13-member team stood strong in resolve to let no harm come in the way of the babies.
As ceiling collapse became imminent, defying the danger to themselves, the nurses came together to make an umbrella formation and provide a protective shield over the babies. This helped the doctors to rescue the babies and shift them out safely.
“We were holding babies on one hand and the collapsed ceiling portions on the other. The aluminum bars hurt us but that was the last thing in our mind. We had to save the babies at any cost,” said staff nurse Ramarani Biswal. Ramarani was one among seven nurses who put their lives in danger to rescue the newborns from the SNCU.
Despite having spinal cord injury which was causing excruciating pain, the 30-year-old put all her efforts to shift the babies. For a moment the condition was so precarious that she felt she would collapse, but it did not deter her from accomplishing the mission.
“Shifting the babies was more dangerous and terrifying. Rainwater flooded the floor and the fierce wind made every step difficult. The two doors of the unit were vibrating as if they would break into pieces anytime. We then decided to shift the babies to the ground floor. Their mothers were immediately called and provided with a chair each asking them to hold their babies till the arrangements are made for evacuation,” said medical officer Dr Jyoti Prakash Mishra.
He somehow managed to come down to the ground floor through the inner stairs and located the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), which was better placed as neither wind nor rainwater was entering it. The team members formed a human chain and with the help of their parents successfully shifted the babies.
All babies were immediately provided oxygen from the portable cylinders. Later, 11 babies, who were in critical condition, were shifted to other hospitals.
“It was a horrific experience. I am still unable to figure out whether I would be happy or cry. But one thing I realised that the unseen power was saving us from the near-death situation,” said Dr Mishra. The mothers and parents of the babies could not thank the team enough for their feat.
“The doctors and nurses are God for us. My daughter owes her life to them. I can never repay it,” said a mother Sumitra Behera. Director of the hospital Dr Ashok Kumar Pattnaik said despite all odds, the hospital attended around 4,089 outdoor patients and 1400 indoor patients on May 3 and 4. “Around 14 cesarean and 57 normal deliveries were also conducted in the two days,” he added.