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Transgender's death triggers protest

Staff Reporter
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Support group alleges bigotry led to medical negligence

Alleging that negligence by Victoria Hospital doctors caused the death Shakila, of a young transgender, members of Samara, a community organisation of sexuality minorities, staged a protest on the hospital premises on Tuesday.

While doctors denied negligence, Sumitra, one of the community members, who accompanied the 27-year-old patient to the hospital on Saturday, said Shakila was refused treatment and admission on April 23, the first day of the hospital visit.

According to Ms. Sumitra, the duty doctor turned down the patient “suspecting she was HIV positive”.

Very sick

Shakila was taken to the hospital on April 23 after a field worker called the Samara helpline about the transgender in need of urgent treatment for acute diarrhoea.

“As the patient looked weak and frail, the duty doctor suspected she was HIV positive. Though we protested in front of the Medical Superintendent's office, she was denied admission and treatment. She was lying on the hospital corridor all night. She was finally admitted on April 24 morning at 10.30 a.m. after HIV test reports showed she was negative,” Ms. Sumitra said.

According to another activist, the patient suffered a lot of stigma as the nurses and attenders refused to treat her.

“She died on Tuesday morning and doctors say she died of acute septicaemia. But her life could have been saved if she was given timely treatment,” said Mahesh, Coordinator of Karnataka Sexuality Minorities Forum.

Samara Secretary Soumya has filed a police complaint against the hospital. Samara members now plan to take up cases of discrimination against their community members at the national level. “We will take up the case to Human Rights Commission and the Health Secretary before placing it before National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) in Delhi,” said Mahadesh, Samara programme director.

B.G. Tilak, Medical Superintendent of Victoria Hospital, denied bigotry. “The patient came to us for alcohol de-addiction treatment on April 23 and was treated as an out-patient. But, she came back again on April 24 with severe dehydration and was admitted immediately. She had acute gastroenteritis and candidiasis (a fungal infection) and died on Tuesday. I have asked the doctors to submit a detailed report. All patients are same for us and there has been no discrimination,” he added.

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