Just when you thought being pregnant couldn’t get any harder, a story like this comes along. Soon-to-be parents spend countless hours going through birthing and breathing classes, on top of many restless nights waking up in a panic thinking about a problem in their planned route to the hospital. Having just been with my sister when she had her second child, all of this is fresh in my mind. But for one couple in India, they survived all of these trials and tribulations. The mother, Lakshmi Babu, had just given birth to a four-and-a-half pound son. Little did she know that three days later, her lovely little boy would be eaten alive by rats while lying in his hospital incubator.
When Lakshmi and her husband, Chavali, rushed to the Government General Hospital in Guntur, there were no indications that they were in for one of the most traumatic experiences any parent could have. Since the boy was born a little over one month premature, his lungs were weak and he quickly developed respiratory complications. Removed from his parents, the child was taken to the pediatric ward for special care and was placed in an incubation unit for his recovery.
Due to hospital regulations, the boy’s parents were not allowed near his incubator, but as they continued to pace and monitor their son’s health, they noticed that there were a number of rats in the ward. They alerted an administrator at the hospital, Dr. Venugopala Rao, who put in a request with the engineering department to fix the hole in the ceiling where the rats were entering.
Little else was thought of the rats until the next day when Chavali heard his son screaming and asked one of the nurses to check on him. The nurses delayed this request, despite the boy’s screams continuing with increased urgency. When they did finally go to the incubator, they found that there were two rats inside who had gnawed off some of the child’s fingers, part of his legs, and most of his left eye. Although the child was rushed to the intensive care unit (ICU), there was little chance for recovery. Sadly, the child died the following day.
To make this tragedy even more bizarre, while the government in Andhra Pradesh is conducting a report on the incident, the father who had recently lost his son was questioned. According to him, after his son had been declared dead, a hospital administrator had tried to cheer him up by reminding him that ‘you have another son.’ Until the government’s investigation is completed, both Dr. Rao and the administrator are suspended.