Jayalalithaa death: Medical report neutralises Panneerselvam but shows the AIADMK lied those 75 days

It took the threat of a fast by O Panneerselvam on 8 March and serious allegations against VK Sasikala to push the Tamil Nadu government to make public the discharge summary given by Apollo Hospitals after J Jayalalithaa passed away on 5 December, 2016. What the summary and the report of AIIMS doctors establishes is that the former chief minister suffered from a cocktail of serious ailments that made it extremely tough for her to recover.

File image of J Jayalalithaa. PTI

File image of J Jayalalithaa. PTI

But that was not the intention of Team Sasikala. The political purpose of the report was to puncture what the "fancy conspiracy theories'' the Panneerselvam camp had floated. And according to the 12-page summary, Panneerselvam's contention that he was not in the loop on his leader's health comes unstuck when he is named among the six people to who Jayalalithaa's critical state was conveyed.

The discharge summary says that it was clinically concluded that there was no heart function and that neurological examination revealed brainstem dysfunction. The position was conveyed to senior ministers and political leaders (O Panneerselvam, Dr Vijayabhaskar, M Thambidurai), Ms Sasikala and government officials (chief secretary and health secretary). It concludes : "All of them understood the situation and consented for withdrawal of Extracorporeal Membrane oxygenation (life support). After ECMO withdrawal, the patient was declared dead at 11:30 pm on 5.12.2016.''

One of the points put forth by Team OPS was to question who took the call to decide the plan of action once it was obvious that the AIADMK leader's chances of survival were next to nil. The Panneerselvam camp insinuated that it was Sasikala who took the call. The summary calls the former chief minister's bluff and clearly states that the four AIADMK leaders gave their consent for removing the Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO), which led to natural cessation of life.

Another allegation leveled by the OPS camp was that Jayalalithaa was pushed inside Veda Nilayam, leading to her hospitalisation on 22 September. The summary points out that the hospital received a call around 10 pm and when the ambulance reported to Poes Garden, it found Jayalalithaa "breathless with low oxygen saturation resulting in drowsiness". It denies any trauma and rejects the OPS camp charge.

Through her innings as chief minister between 2011 and 2016 and during her hospitalisation, an attempt was made to hide Jayalalithaa's medical issues. The summary points out that the CM suffered from asthmatic bronchitis, diabetes, hypertension, hyprothyriodism, pulmonary odema and pre-cardio situation. It says the cause of her death was "ventricular fibrillation, infective endocarditis and acute respiratory distress syndrome".

The summary is a belated attempt at lending credibility to whatever happened inside Apollo for 75 days. It discloses the names of the 17 Apollo doctors who treated Jayalalithaa as well as the other experts from different hospitals who gave their opinion. The attempt is to convey that the best possible treatment was provided to the former CM but her health complications were beyond repair.

But more importantly it seeks to absolve Sasikala, who has been the target of vicious mud-slinging, of any wrongdoing with respect to Jayalalithaa's care. Contrary to rumours that Jaya was being given the wrong medication, the reports clearly mentions that except for corticosteroids which were administered for atopic dermatitis (a condition that makes skin red and itchy), she was taking oral hypoglycemic and anti-hypertensive drugs to control diabetes and hypertension.

But what this does is to show the Tamil Nadu government and Apollo Hospitals in poor light, especially with respect to the first couple of weeks after Jayalalithaa was admitted. It is clear that it was not a case of simple fever and dehydration, as the initial medical bulletins put out. The report points out Jayalalithaa was admitted in a very critical condition and that there was fluid accumulation in her lungs because of heart not pumping enough. Her condition was clearly unstable.

Sources reveal that though the Apollo official signed the health bulletin releases on the first few days, they were dictated by the government. It is evident that the top brass of the AIADMK decided the people of the state need not know their CM was in critical condition.

While the privacy of a patient ought to be respected, it is unethical to hide the truth from the people, especially when it concerns a public representative. Apollo should now come clean on who directed it to issue misleading bulletins because its credibility has been eroded in the process.

The summary says Jaya's condition deteriorated on day 4 (25 September) when she developed tachypnoea (rapid breathing) and it worsened the following day. Incidentally, 27 September is the day the government put out a press release saying the CM presided over a meeting over Cauvery river water in her hospital bed. Doesn't this amount to cheating the people?

Outside the hospital, AIADMK spokesperson CR Saraswati was scripting her own imaginative tale of a Jayalalithaa who was recovering fast and had gone to hospital only to take some rest. It is apparent that her soundbites had no truth to them.

Incidentally, the report refers to Sasikala as the "family member"' whose consent also was taken before the call to withdraw life support. The irony is not lost on anyone because the real blood relation — Jaya's niece Deepa Jayakumar — was prevented from entering the hospital. Who told Apollo Hospitals not to let Deepa in?

Though Panneerselvam's credibility has taken a hit because of this report, it is a positive development because the summary and the AIIMS report answers some of the questions to which the public sought answers.

Updated Date: Mar 07, 2017 14:13 PM

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