Jayalalithaa health setback puts life in Tamil Nadu in suspended animation

Since Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa suffered a cardiac arrest on Sunday, everything in the state seems to be in suspended animation although normal life in the city and elsewhere is unaffected.

The entire AIADMK leadership, ministers and a large number of party workers are camping in and around Apollo Hospitals on Greams Road, where she has been admitted since Sunday evening, when the hospital issued a press release announcing the latest setback. The hospital had confirmed earlier that she had completely recovered from the medical conditions for which she was admitted and was on a path of recuperation. An AIADMK leader had also announced a few hours earlier that she would be going home soon.

It’s rather impossible to gather anything new other than what the hospital has said: That she is on an “extracorporeal membrane heart assist device” and is being treated by a team of experts that includes cardiologists, pulmonologists and critical care specialists. The hospital did admit that she was in a critical condition.

 Jayalalithaa health setback puts life in Tamil Nadu in suspended animation

Representational image. Reuters

Even as get-well messages pour in from all over the country — from national and state government leaders and ministers, all that Tamil Nadu, the AIADMK leadership, her supporters and well-wishers can do is to wait. The procedure that the hospital said that it has conducted on her is not very unusual in critical situations and it does take time for the patient to stabilise and recover.

In simple terms, “extracorporeal membrane heart assist device” means that the functions of her heart and lungs have been temporarily taken over by an external machine (extracorporeal means outside the body). Right now, she is on such a life support system because of the cardiac arrest and it takes the load from her heart and lungs and helps her recover. It’s somewhat similar to a heart-lung machine that’s commonly used during a coronary bypass surgery.

Given that the emotions of party workers run high during such distress situations, the state administration is reportedly taking all necessary precautions for ensuring normal life. Media reports said that senior police officers across the state have been ordered to report for law and order duty by Monday morning. There were also reports that both the state cabinet and the top brass of the police held late night meetings on Sunday night to ensure that there are no untoward incidents. Live TV feeds from the surrounding areas of the hospital showed considerable frenzy among her supporters. Prayers by groups of women appears to be a common sight. Party supporters are also organising prayers everywhere across the state.

Anything beyond what’s officially announced is speculation. Since Sunday, social media has been rife with rumours and unconfirmed reports, some of which were mischievous and misleading. Doctors will have to wait and watch and her supporters have to hope for the best. Medical literature shows that the present situation could last a few days. Reportedly, Dr Richard Beale, the critical care specialist from the UK, who had advised Apollo Hospitals on her treatment earlier, as well as the team from All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences (Aiims) have been consulted and they will provide continued to support.

Jaya was admitted at the Apollo Hospitals more than two months ago with distress to her lungs and heart and also some infection. Although the hospital was tight-lipped about her condition initially, it later admitted that she was on respiratory support and on medicines to fight the infection. Later on, the hospital chairman Dr PC Reddy himself told the media that she had fully recovered and could go home whenever she was ready.

Updated Date: Dec 05, 2016 11:30:28 IST