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Would you know my name if I saw you Heaven...? Where’s Romali…? – Part I

Would you know my name if I saw you Heaven...? Where’s Romali…? – Part I

"What I'm requesting from the doctors is, don't judge a patient only according to the report. Just come and see the condition of the patient. I think in that way you can save a lot of lives" it was Romali's mother.   

"My request is, each and every patient should get treated equally whether they are rich or poor. Just feel for everyone." She added.    

Her father Rohindara added his voice from time to time." Doctors should not take the lives of patients so flippant. This made us  lose our beloved daughter forever."   

"I had a big dream to wed my daughter in a nice way and have a beautiful ceremony for her." Then he couldn't talk anymore and started trumpeting his grief. It's they who knows how much it hurts and it's they who bear it themselves.   

"I know that Romali will ever come back but this should not happen to another mother and a father" he added.  At the time, Romaic was an executive officer of Brandi i3. She was 26 while she passed away and she was spending the most beautiful years of her life. She was the only daughter of the family. She was a graduate on Psychology and management at the University of Nottingham, England and she was in her final year of her degree of Business Studies.  

At the time of this untimely death, she was helping a child from SOS Children's Village for his studies. Although she was in the basic stage of her career and not earned much, she used to visit elderly homes or orphanages from the very first day she gets her salary and offered to them to fulfill their needs. Even her parents never knew that their daughter had such a big beautiful heart until she was gone.  

We don't prefer to say that her destiny or 'karma' stole her untimely. Not only for her mother, father, and brother but also for the whole country Romali was indeed a worthy child. This kind of incidents occurs because of-of the wretchedness of this country and not because of some other thing less than that. If hospital authorities fail to bring the responsible parties before the law, being a responsible media network, we wish to do our best duty to bring them before the People's Court. 

We strongly believe that this is not just a mere incident and we will be questioning the failure of the whole system throughout this series of articles. We wish to bring the detailed story and agony which Romali's family undergoes, as we think that a similar incident should never repeat. So this isn't just a story which we should leave to the fate or the destiny.

Romali's short life - a Haiku poem  

There was an altar built for her behind the table where we spoke to her family; undying candles are lit on the altar for her; beautiful fragrant flowers are kept there forever; the wall behind the altar is full of her memories, photographs of pretty Romali's summer days.  

Yeah, her life is a Haiku poem, it's short but sweet. 

She was a young lady who followed her own motto "Live, Laugh and Love". There are several places are filled with the photographs of her charming smile. Her parents have nothing else to do unless taking their lives further with Romali's motto. Romali's father has got her darling daughter's motto tattooed on his right arm, It's not just a body tattoo, but a tattoo that carved inside their hearts.

 

"Take her to home and bring back if the blood count goes down"  

On 30.03.2017, Romali was a healthy and a youthful lady, like any young person at her stage. But at that evening she got some pains in her body, and her loving parents took her to a private hospital at the very night. 

At that time the island was swept away with Dengue fever at epidemic levels. Romali had a good knowledge on this topic as she was handling "dengue.lk" website, which was hosted by her former company. She complained a body pain to mother and said it will be better if she would do a Dengue Antigen Test. She was suffering from a stomachache, headache as well from an ache in her muscles. She was taken to the Durdans Hospital and the doctor who checked her said that it's better to have a Dengue Antigen test for dengue fever. Parents came home with her and it was prescribed to give Panadol in the correct dosage. 

By midnight they got a phone call from the hospital saying that the test says "Dengue Positive" which means that there were Dengue antibodies in her blood sample.  

The phone call was answered by Romali's mother. She was shocked and asked what's the blood count is. She was to take her daughter to the hospital again. But what hospital said was the platelet count is 225 000 and it's not serious! they asked her to provide bed rest for the patient and come back in the next morning.   

It's just a usual thing that if the platelet count is not fatal, they ask to take the patient home and let him have bedrest but it's going down continuously or the patient is turning fatal they admit the patient to the hospital.  

At the 31st night, Romali was down with a severe fever; the reading of her body temperature was between 104°F or 105°F. She was losing her appetite as well.  Romali's mother phoned their family doctor once again. " Don't panic, bring her to me at 2.30 pm", she replied. Romali's parents took her to the doctor at the given time, again a platelet test was done and the report said that the count has been gone down to 175,000. What she said was "Better to admit her to the hospital if things get worse". She prescripted Panadol as well.

Romali was so exhausted, and her temperature was fluctuating all the time. Her mother never took her eyes away for her daughter but she felt the risk and tended to contact their doctor at about 7am, as the first thing on 1st April. 

The doctor said those symptoms may be shown that Romali's platelet count is going down gradually and now it is the right time to admit her to a hospital. And she recommended Dr. Ananda Wijewickrama as the best Physician to take care of her.

Physician Ananda Wijewikrama was the head of IDH hospital, and IDH is a general hospital which was doing an outstanding duty on prevention of dengue menace. With the expectation of providing their only daughter the most sounded treatment that ever could get they rushed to check out from where they could see that doctor. 

They took Romali to the Asiri Medical Hospital at Kirula Road as it's one of the ony two places where the doctor could be channeled. (The other was Lanka Hospital). 

Romali was already in a bad situation, she spewed twice even before the car was parked. It was a big deal to take her out from the car and take into the hospital. They had to call for a wheelchair. 

As all the hospital rooms were occupied they took Romali to the Emergency Care Unit. A drip was put to her immedietly.

''At that moment her temperature was 104°F" her mother says. Romali had to undergo several tests as they were urgent, and then by the noon she was registered at the hospital.

The young House Officer who registered Romali to the hospital phoned to Dr. Wijewikrama and consulted him regarding her condition. Dr Ananda Wijewickrama has asked to do a blood test urgently and send the report to him. It was Mr Rohindra who handed over the blood sample of  his daughter to the laboratory which was in upper stairs. And he has been advised to say that it is urgent. Father believed that this is the best place for his daughter. He went to the laboratory twice to check whether the report is ready. And finally, it was emailed to for reading and by that timeher blood count was ceased to 144 000.

House Officer at ECU rang Dr. Wijewickrama once again and what he said was that it's too early to get admitted Romali to the hospital and further advised to her home and come back if it ceases to 100, 000 or below. House Officer convey dengue specialist's messege to Romali's parents.  

They were panicked. Even the mother was arguing with the doctor." My daughter's reports show that she is dengue positive, she is even vomiting and shivering. And how can I take her home under this situation as her mother and take care of her life? I brought her here to be admitted because our family doctor advised us to do so", she told with tears.  

Then the doctor said "If you are so concerned, we will give a supportery to get down the fever" (a pill which is entered to the body through the anal) 

"Do you know that the supportery is worst for the dengue fever?" questioned the mother.  

The doctor, after a moment of silence said that "we can admit her under another doctor upon your reference…" 

As Romali's condition was critical they needed have a trustworthy and known doctor. So they thought of taking her to the Asiri  Central Hospital as a second option  

"Why Asiri Central Hospital?" We asked.  

"We trusted this hospital a lot. 4 years ago I underwent a brain surgery at the same hospital.I had best treatments there and they paid a very good attention on me. We needed to give the best treatments available in Sir Lanka and get her back. So we took that decision…"  

It was a fatal decision indeed as this is the hospital which could consider as one respondent party in this case. Finally, Romali left this world at the same Asiri Central Hospital where Romali's father was 7th shareholder of Softlogics Group, the parent company of the said hospital. However it should be noted that he was not a shareholder at the time when they admitted her to the hospital. 

Under the shadows of dusk

When they were taking the decision to take Romali to the Asiri Central Hospital it was about 3pm. Romali spoke to her mother and her voice was so weak, " Ammi, I'm not feeling good, take the decision what you'll want to do, but don't take me home !! but take the decision, whether to the hospital or home."

Romali was never a child who force her parents for anything, but for some reason this time she was so compelling. Why was that..?  Did she felt the dusk??  

"No darling, we won't take you home" mom said crying. Romali was taken to the car again, assited with a wheelchair.  "We were said that Dr. Ananda Wijewickrama is the best, and we took her to the Asiri Medical Hospital expecting treatments from the same Physician and they asked us to take back her home because the platelet count is not so down. And I would like to convince the fact that this Dr. Ananda Wijewickrama is the first one who is responsible for this. At the time I shouted at the doctor. Only a mother could understand the pain I was undergoing; I knew my daughter was not in a good condition, she was vomiting even, had a severe fever and couldn't even take her head up and sit straight. What they did was giving saline for dehydration… and then I told at least come here and see what is the condition of my daughter and then tell me whether if should I take her home and then I will… " Romali's mother recalled that moment. 

Due to some business relationships mentioned above, Mr Rohindra had some contacts with the senior management of Asiri Hospital network. At the morning while they were taking Romali to the Asiri Medical Hospital, he spoke to a friend from there, who is an executive officer and informed him that they are taking his daughter to the Asiri Medical and he will ring him if needed. "No problem Rohindra, I will get a room ready for her, after admitting we will take her to that room. These days there are lots of patients." He has said.  

"There was a room that was ready for my daughter, but they say that they can't admit her under Dr. Wijewickrama..  so, what can I do?" Mr. Rohindra said. They had no option unless to take her to the Asiri Central Hospital. On the way he stopped the car and ringed the family doctor, but the number was busy and then he tried to that executive friend and said what happened at the Asiri Medical hospital. He said to bring Romali to the Asiri Central Hospital immediately, and he suggested to admit her under a good physician specialized for dengue fever at Asiri Central Hospital.  

When they went to the hospital Romali was given special treatments including drips and cannulas and within half an hour she was admitted to the hospital. The doctor who was initially suggested to treat Romali, found busy while trying to reach him out. Then authorities got connected with Physician Panduka Karunanayake. When Romali's father inquired on Dr Panduka he was said by the executive officer that "Don't panic and have no fear, my daughter was down with dengue fever and treated by this same doctor and she is cured now" 

With that assurance, Romali's life was on the hand of Dr. Panduka Karunanayaka since that noon. Parents never moved even for a second from her bedside. 

Although dengue patients should be subjected to daily scan tests, under the care of this hospital, Romali was scanned only once for whole next 7 days. And the relevant authorities had never considered the result of that single scan test, when it clearly mentions on an early liver leakage. And finally, the beautiful healthy lady who never had admitted to a hospital throughout her whole life, never came back.  

The truth will never be silent as the dead. When the dead start telling out their stories it won't be peaceful for some responsible parties. But what we believe is incidents speak out themselves. And also, we are bringing out this article series on young Romali's death, while recognizing that each and every party has their own story as well.
Let's meet in the next episode.   

Contributors: Radika Gunaratne, Hansini Sampath

Translated by: Chavini Abhayasinghe

Pix by: Pathum Senarathna

 

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