Patients who are brought dead are a common sight in most hospitals. KCH also sees an average of 3-5 patients every week day who are brought dead.
Yesterday, we had a little boy of about 4 years who was brought dead after getting bitten by a snake.
In June, I kept count of about 10 patients who were brought dead after being bitten by a snake. My estimate is that half of the people who are brought dead without any explanation are snake bite victims. The 10 patients I kept a count of does not include the latter group.
Now, about the little boy. He was bitten by a black snake at around 12 pm yesterday. Couple of men saw the snake were definite that it was not a krait. The boy became unconscious as the family was on their way to consult the witch doctor. By the time they reached the witch doctor, the boy was presumed dead. Even the witch doctor declared him dead.
As it was nearing evening, the family wanted to do the last rites and therefore took the body to a nearby river for cremation. As they laid him onto the wood and started preparing for the cremation, someone noticed that his limbs were moving and then someone declared that he could hear the heartbeat.
Out they took the body from the timber platform and rushed . . . not to a hospital . . . yes . . . to another witch-doctor who was much more famous. This witch doctor declared that he was alive and started treatment. The treatment included pouring ground herbs into his nose. Nothing happened.
That was when someone told about KCH. The witch doctor also gave them hope that chances are better if they took the boy as soon as possible to Kachhwa.
We were wide awake treating another snake bite victim who was on mechanical ventilation when a huge crowd of people walked in with the little boy. It was around midnight . . . a full 12 hours after the snake bite . . .
One look and it was definite that the boy was long dead. After the customary examination, we declared him dead. Dilated and fixed pupils, a dry clouded cornea, absent heart beat . . . mouth filled with vomit . . . both nostrils stuffed with a ground herbs . . . bloated abdomen . . . there was no doubt . . .
The relatives could not believe. They told me that the witch-doctor told them that there was some machine we had that could resurrect dead snake-bite victims. Trying to respond to these guys was mind-boggling. They lingered around for more than half an hour.
At last, relatives of other patients intervened and convinced them that there was no point. I thank God that there were three snake bite victims who had recovered well at that point of time and their relatives were willing to talk and reason out.
I never knew the full story till they left. After they left, few of the young men who intervened told me the above story. They also commented that this was not uncommon for them to hear such accounts. I also could believe it . . . I hope you remember the story I posted from one of the local newspapers in Jharkhand last year about a dead snake bite victim who was exhumed after burial not once but twice at the insistence of witch doctors . . .