Monday, March 7, 2011

Caregivers keep Aruna alive ,She Breathes On Her Own, Rules Apex Court

New Delhi: Aruna Shanbaug, bed ridden in a permanent vegetative state for the last 38 years after a bru tal sexual assault in November 1973 will live as the Supreme Court on Monday rejected a euthanasia plea on her behalf because the staff and nurses, taking excellent care, want her to live.
It rejected a petition filed by Pinky Virani, who in 2009 had moved the Supreme Court seeking a peaceful end to a life struggling within Aruna’s body. She had described her as Aruna’s next friend and had even written a book on her 37 years of struggle.
The court was moved by the con tinuous medical attention given to Aruna by the King Edward Memor ial (KEM) Hospital of Mumbai where she had been lodged after be ing sexually assaulted by a sweeper of that hospital on November 27, 1973
“The KEM hospital staff has de veloped an emotional bonding and at tachment to Aruna Shanbaug, and in a sense they are her real family today,” said a bench comprising Justices Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Misra while rejecting Virani’s claim that she was Aruna’s next friend.
It did not mean to offend Virani In fact, the court praised her effort But, agreed with KEM Hospital that it alone was legally, emotionally and circumstantially entitled to the po sition of Aruna’s next friend and clarified that it wanted her to live till her natural death. On the basis of a report on Aruna’s medical condition by an expert panel comprising Dr J V Divita, Dr Roop Gurshani and Dr Nilesh Shah, the bench said she meeting most parameters of a per manent vegetative state, could not be said to be brain dead.
“Her dementia has not progressed and has remained stable for many years. Whatever the condition of her cortex, her brain stem is certainly alive. She does not need a heart-lung machine. She breathes on her own without the help of a respirator. She digests food, and her body performs other involuntary functions without any help. From the video, it appears that she can certainly not be called dead. She was making some sounds blinking, eating food put in her mouth and even licking with her tongue morsels on her mouth,” it said.
“There appears little possibility of her coming out of PVS in which she is in. In all probability, she will continue to be in the state in which she is in till her death,” the court said
But, who will decide about her death? It said whatever be the in tensity of Virani’s interest in Aruna the petitioner cannot match KEM Hospital staff, who have taken care of Aruna day and night for 38 years
Even if KEM hospital staff change their mind and in future want eu thanasia for Aruna, for this they have to apply to Bombay high court for ap proval of the decision to withdraw life support system, the court said.
The court quoted the expert pan el’s report to describe Aruna. “She recognizes that people are around her and expresses her likes and dislikes by making some vocal sound and wav ing her hand by certain movements,” it said. “She smiles if she receives her favourite food, fish and chicken soup She breathes normally and does not require a heart-lung machine or in travenous tube for feeding. Her pulse rate and respiratory rate and blood pressure are normal. She was able to blink well and could see her doctors who examined her,” the bench said.
“When an attempt was made to feed her through mouth, she accept ed a spoonful of water, some sugar and mashed banana. She also licked the sugar and banana paste sticking on her upper lips and swallowed it. She would get disturbed when many peo ple entered her room, but she appeared to calm down when she was touched or caressed gently,” the court noted.


Marte hain aarzoo mein marne ki, Maut aati hai par nahin aati
Justice Katju quoting Ghalib
Aruna can’t be said to be brain dead. From the report of committee of doctors, it appears she has some brain activity, though very little
Not Pinky Virani, but it is the KEM Hospital staff who is really the next friend of Aruna Shanbaug
The whole country must learn the meaning of dedication and sacrifice
from the KEM staff for taking care of Aruna who despite being confined to bed for 38 years hasn’t one bed sore
Although we’ve dismissed Virani’s petition, we regard her as a public-spirited person
We are of the opinion that although Section 309 of IPC (attempt to suicide) has been held to be constitutionally valid in Gian Kaur’s case, the time has come when it should be deleted by Parliament as it has become anachronistic
A person attempts suicide in a depression, and hence needs help, rather than punishment
Active euthanasia like injecting drug to end life of a terminally ill is illegal

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