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Elderly man ‘gave up his hospital bed for younger patient’ then died at home

Selfless veteran Narayan Dabhalkar discharges himself from Indian casualty ward and tells medics: ‘I have lived my life. Saving the life of a young man is more important’

Joe Sommerlad
Wednesday 28 April 2021 14:32 BST
Related video: India’s healthcare system ‘collapses’ as hospitals face oxygen shortage
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An 85-year-old man in India who selflessly abandoned his hospital bed to make way for a younger patient has passed away from the coronavirus at home, India Today reports.

Narayan Dabhalkar, a retired statistician, walked out of the casualty ward of the Indira Gandhi Rughnalaya (IGR) government hospital in Nagpur, Maharashtra, against the advice of doctors – and despite his blood oxygen levels falling – after he witnessed a woman pleading with staff to admit her 40-year-old husband to the crowded medical facility.

“I am 85,” Mr Dabhalkar reportedly told staff. “I have lived my life. Saving the life of a young man is more important. Their children are young… please give my bed to them.”

Discharged and collected by his daughter Aasawari Kothiwan, he died three days later at home.

“Our entire family is down with Covid,” the latter explained in a post that went viral on social media. “On April 16, we got his samples tested and the results came on April 19. The treatment continued at home. We rushed him to IGR when his oxygen levels dipped on April 22. We got a bed after great effort but he was back home in a couple of hours. Even doctors said that he was in a critical state.

“My father said he would prefer to spend his last moments with us. He also told us about a young patient: ‘I have already lived my life and would rather leave it to fate instead of blocking a bed for two-three days at the cost of a younger patient.’

“The last moments were painful. His nails turned black and limbs had become numb. He died after having a few morsels from my hand.”

A report by The Times of India quoted an unnamed hospital official who said the younger man would not necessarily have received the octogenarian’s bed but that his sacrifice had unquestionably helped with the overcrowding issue.

“Whom to give the bed is the prerogative of the doctor,” the official said. “Although Dabhalkar leaving would have certainly eased the pressure by creating space for someone else.”

India is currently the global epicentre of the Covid-19 crisis and is enduring a devastating second wave of infections, passing 200,000 deaths from the pandemic on Wednesday after reporting 300,000 new cases for the seventh day running.

The past 24 hours have been the country’s deadliest of the outbreak so far, with 3,293 deaths recorded plus a new world record for daily cases set at 360,960.

Experts meanwhile believe the official records greatly underestimate the true figures, with epidemiologists at the University of Michigan projecting the actual number of deaths to be between two to five times higher than is being reported.

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