Sources said the hospital administration got the formal confirmation to shift her on Tuesday evening. After getting the nod from cardiac surgeon Dr Naresh Trehan, who visited the hospital around 11 am on Wednesday and whose Medanta hospital was providing the road and air ambulances, the hospital was informed that passports had to be arranged for the patient and her family.
Soon, sources said, a Muslim patient was admitted in the ICU. “We made sure that his burqa-clad relatives were seen going up and down, taking the stairs in the ICU. After that, a photographer went up in a burqa to the ICU to get pictures of the victim, so that he would not attract any attention,” a source said. The pictures of the family were also taken in the waiting room outside the ICU. The forms were filled by the family at 3 pm and the passports arrived by 5 pm while arrangements for visas on-arrival were made.
The first instructions to start identifying a hospital where the woman could be shifted came to Safdarjung hospital authorities on Monday evening, sources said. Hospital authorities were apparently keen that she be taken to Europe, and identified two centres — one in London and the other in Germany.
But on Wednesday morning, Medanta authorities informed the hospital that the maximum flying time of their air ambulance was only six hours. “Germany would have taken eight hours and London nine hours. When we were told about this, the only possible destination within this flight time was Singapore,” a source said. Mount Elizabeth hospital with expertise in organ transplants was picked, although sources said the hospital does not have experience in intestinal transplants which the victim will eventually need.
Soon, senior surgeons in the team of doctors contacted Dr Denis Nyam, a general surgeon at Mount Elizabeth hospital, to coordinate the transfer. The air ambulance was to originally take off at 9.30 pm, but had to be rescheduled to 11.30 pm as some last-minute changes had to be made in the team of doctors that would accompany the woman, and communication from the Union Health ministry to the hospital around 5.30 pm to cancel the transfer for the time being.
Finally, experts from the critical care unit at Safdarjung hospital, and a team of doctors from Medanta accompanied her. Sources said the family was not told where it was being flown until the team reached the airport at around 11.15 pm.
“Around 3 pm, police were given three ambulances as per their request,” a source said. The first two ambulances were arranged on either side of the ICU building by around 10.15 pm. The Medanta ambulance was brought outside the hospital ICU at around 10.20 pm. Sources said the first ambulance left without any patient, followed by a lot of activity from the ICU, where a patient was brought out surrounded by hospital staff, and rushed inside the Safdarjung ambulance, causing media cameras to rush towards it.
This was a “dummy” planted to distract, a source said. Meanwhile, as the attention of the cameras was diverted, the patient was brought out surrounded by the ICU specialists treating her, and transferred to the Medanta ambulance which left at 10.30 pm.