A widely covered story about an 85-year old Narayan Dabhadkar, Nagpur resident and member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) who succumbed to Covid after voluntarily giving up a hospital bed so that a younger man could receive treatment, has run into questions.
BOOM examined the timeline of the events and spoke to Dabhadkar's daughter as well as an official at the hospital. While there is no doubt that Dabhadkar was admitted for a few hours in the casualty ward of the hospital as per both their versions, there is no consensus on why he sought to leave the hospital without being treated. While the daughter claimed that her father gave up the bed for the benefit of younger patients, the hospital pointed out that they do not have ventilator facilities and were not made aware of the reasons for refusing the bed.
Speaking to BOOM, Asawari Dabhadkar Kothiwan, the deceased's daughter said that her father informed her of his decision from the hospital. "I was not okay with his decision, but he was stubborn with it as he did not feel right that somebody younger was suffering," Kothiwan said.
But when we spoke to Sheelu Chimurkar, in-charge of the Indira Gandhi Rugnalaya, she said, "Neither my staff nor am I aware about the incident that the patient sacrificed a bed for someone else. I can confirm that, Narayan Dabhadkar had come to the hospital on April 22 in a serious condition and after getting treatment for sometime, decided to leave and signed a Discharge Against Medical Advice (DAMA)."
The viral posts that started doing the rounds on Twitter and Facebook claimed that Dabhadkar "sacrificed" his bed after seeing the wife of a 40-year-old man plead with doctors to get one for him. A right wing political activist Shefali Vaidya also tweeted about the incident in a thread, describing it as a story that left her speechless.
Amruta Fadnavis, a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party also posted about him on Facebook saying, "This noble soul won the battle of humanity & has shown us the epitome of sacrifice."
The story is viral on social media platforms and on WhatsApp praising the act of Dabhadkar and was also reported by several Marathi language media outlets.
My Father Said He Had Lived His Life And Others Deserved A Chance To Do So : Narayan Dabhadkar's DaughterSpeaking to BOOM, Asawari Dabhadkar Kothiwan, daughter of the deceased 85-year-old said that they all tested positive for COVID-19 but given her father's age, his condition quickly turned serious. With his oxygen levels dropping, they started hunting for a bed but found it difficult to find one given the high number of reported cases in Nagpur.
"On April 22, we found a bed in Indira Gandhi Rugnalaya and took him there where his treatment was started in the casualty area. After four to five hours, I got a call from him saying he wants to leave the hospital and was shocked. I asked him why and he said, 'There are patients younger than me struggling to get a bed. I am not comfortable listening to their pleas. I have lived my life, and they deserve a chance to do so'. I was very upset and did not agree to his decision but he was stubborn about it," Kothiwan said.
She further added, "We informed the hospital that he wanted to go home and signed the DAMA and told them that whatever happens henceforth is on us and he came back home." When asked whether they went to another hospital to check for bed availability, she said, "Why should we have done that? He did not want to go looking for another bed in another hospital because it was not about the bed. He felt that he had lived his life and he would be taking the bed away from someone more deserving and who had more life to see and live."
Kothiwan also explained that her father could hear many people pleading the hospital staff for a bed for their loved ones. "He told me hearing their pleas made him extremely uncomfortable. We don't know who the bed went to but my father was very clear that if he gave the bed, it would definitely go to someone more deserving with more life to experience," she said.
My Staff Unaware Why The Patient Left The Hospital : Dr Sheelu Chimurkar, Indira Gandhi Rugnalaya, Nagpur
Dr Sheelu Chimurkar, in-charge at the Nagpur Municipal Corporation run Indira Gandhi Rugnalaya confirmed that Dabhadkar had been admitted to her hospital and said, "The patient, Narayan Dabhadkar was brought to the hospital in a serious condition and was admitted to the casualty section. We do not have any ventilator beds so we started his treatment using an oxygen mask and told the relative accompanying him that after a few hours he would be transferred to a higher centre. He received treatment for about three to four hours when suddenly the relative requested that the patient wanted to be discharged. Given his condition, we were not okay with discharging him but the patient was insistent and they signed a DAMA and left," Chimurkar said.
When asked about Dabhadkar wanting to give the bed to a 40-year-old man whose wife was trying to arrange a bed, Chimurkar said, "I can only tell you what I have complete knowledge of and am aware about. Me and my staff don't know anything about this incident. We had four to five more beds that day but we were not told anything about the patient wanting to give up his bed for another patient."
FAKE NEWS GOING VIRAL AROUND THE INCIDENTThe viral posts have also led to fake claims surrounding the incident including an audio clip which has a doctor saying Narayan Dabhadkar was never a patient at the hospital. Another post shows an edited ABP Majha screenshot which falsely claims Dabhadkar is alive.
A Viral Audio Claiming No Such Patient Was Admitted To The Hospital
Below is one such post with the audio recording.
In the audio Dr Prasad says that no such patient was admitted to the Indira Gandhi medical college hospital in Nagpur. The doctor then said that the patient may have been admitted to the Indira Gandhi Rugnalaya, which is also in Nagpur.
BOOM searched for Dr Ajay Prasad and found the website of Indira Gandhi Medical College and Hospital where he is mentioned as the dean. The Indira Gandhi Medical College and Hospital is a Maharashtra state government run hospital and different from the Indira Gandhi Rugnalaya, a Nagpur civic body run hospital which is headed by Dr Sheelu Chimurkar.
We then reached out to the activist Shivram Thavare who runs Janmitra, a Pune based NGO who accepted that he spoke to the Dean. "After reading about the Narayan Dabhadkar incident and all the denials later, I was very disturbed and decided to investigate the matter myself. So I searched for Indira Gandhi hospital and found the website which showed Dr Ajay Prasad listed as the dean and I called him." When asked did he call the right hospital after getting the clarification from Dr Prasad, Thavare said, "Yes, I called up the Nagpur civic body and spoke to an officer who confirmed to me that such a patient had been admitted and that he did not know about the incident about giving up the bed."
Thavare said he recorded conversations with everyone and sent it to some of his friends and family to clarify the issue, but only one audio clip with Dr Prasad went viral. When asked whether he could send us the other clips, Thavare refused.
Edited ABP Majha Screenshot Claims Narayan Dabhadkar Is Alive
A viral fabricated screenshot falsely claims that Narayan Dabhadkar is still alive. The screenshot carries a logo of Marathi news channel ABP Majha to give it credibility and is being shared on Facebook and Twitter.
Below is the viral screenshot which translates to, "That post is fake, Narayan Dabhadkar safe; Information provided by the family"
(Original text : ती पोस्ट फेक, नारायण दाभाडकर सुखरूप; कुटुंबीयांनी दिली माहिती"
ABP Majha took to Twitter to rubbish the claim and said, "No such news has been published on our website. The screenshot that is going viral is pohotoshopped, we are reporting this to Cyber Cell"
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