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‘Her brain stem swelled to 90%’: Texas student fights for life on ventilator after Astroworld crush

Family of Bharti Shahani are told her chances of survival are ‘nothing’ after she suffered multiple heart attacks in the crush

Rachel Sharp
Tuesday 09 November 2021 16:03 GMT
Bharti Shahani attended the Travis Scott festival with her sister and cousin but got separated from them in the crush
Bharti Shahani attended the Travis Scott festival with her sister and cousin but got separated from them in the crush (ABC13/Bharti Shahani)
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A 22-year-old Texas student is fighting for her life on a ventilator after her brain was deprived of oxygen and she suffered multiple heart attacks in the deadly crush at Astroworld Festival.

Bharti Shahani, a computer programming student at Texas A&M University, remained in the ICU at Houston Methodist Hospital on Monday evening – three days on from the tragedy which has so far killed eight people.

Doctors have told her family her chances of survival are “nothing”, her devastated father told ABC13.

Ms Shahani had gone to Travis Scott’s concert on Friday night with her sister Namrata Shahani and her cousin Mohit Bellani but they all became separated from each other in the chaos.

While her sister and cousin both survived, Ms Shahani was rushed to hospital with medics performing CPR on her on the way.

Namrata Shahani and Mr Bellani told ABC13 about the terrifying ordeal as “a sinkhole” appeared to open up in the crowd with “layers of bodies” piled on top of one another.

“Once one person fell, people started toppling like dominos. It was like a sinkhole. People were falling on top of each other,” said Mr Bellani.

“There were like layers of bodies on the ground, like two people thick. We were fighting to come up to the top and breathe to stay alive.”

Both Mr Bellani and Namrata Shahani lost their cellphones in the chaos and were unable to reach out to Ms Shahani after they escaped the crush.

They later learned that she had been rushed by ambulance to hospital.

“Once we let go of her hand, the next time we saw her, we were in the ER,” Namrata Shahani said.

Mr Bellani said his cousin had been deprived of oxygen for several minutes on end which caused her brain to swell and she suffered multiple heart attacks.

“I think she lost oxygen for 10 minutes one time and seven minutes at another time,” he said.

“So her brain stem was swollen to like 90 per cent almost.”

Bharti Shahani is pictured in ICU in a Texas hospital after suffering multiple heart attacks and her brain being starved of oxygen (ABC13/ Bharti Shahani)

Ms Shahani’s father Sunny Shahani told the outlet he and his wife rushed to NRG stadium when they heard about the tragedy at the festival before visiting several hospitals until they found their daughter.

His 22-year-old daughter was bleeding and on a ventilator, he said.

Mr Shahani said all they can do is “pray” as the “doctors, they say the chances of survival are nothing”.

"I request all of Houston to pray for her. Maybe the prayers might work as a miracle for her,” he pleaded.

Ms Shahani was due to graduate in the new year and had dreams of taking over the family business, he said.

The 22-year-old is one of at least six festival-goers still in hospital on Monday, five of them in intensive care.

One of the other casualties fighting for their lives is Ezra Blount, a nine-year-old boy from Dallas who had gone to see his “favorite artist” Travis Scott with his father.

The boy’s grandfather Bernon Blount told CNN Ezra had been on his father’s shoulders but fell when his dad passed out in crush.

The little boy has been placed into a medically-induced coma to try to overcome the trauma to his brain, he said.

The tragedy unfolded soon after 9pm when headline performer and Astroworld organiser Mr Scott took to the stage.

The crowd surged causing fans to be crushed and trampled in the chaos.

Criminal investigations are now underway into what led to the deadly crush and how it was handled.

It has emerged that Mr Scott continued to perform for almost another 40 minutes after a “mass casualty event” was declared by officials on the scene.

Several social media videos and witness accounts have also revealed fans were trying to alert security and event organisers to the unfolding tragedy but appeared to be ignored.

Mr Scott and the event promoter Live Nation are facing at least 18 lawsuits from survivors and victims’ families.

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