By Friday morning, Mohammed Shahid Raza’s shirt was full of blood stains as his 12-year-old daughter, Chandani Shaikh, vomited blood before collapsing. By 6.30 am, she was declared dead at Rajawadi Hospital.
The family claims her health worsened after consuming two tablets — iron and folic acid — on Monday in Sanjay Nagar Municipal Urdu School as part of a weekly drive to prevent iron deficiency under the National Iron Plus Initiative, run by the Union Health Ministry. On Friday night, her post-mortem was conducted at JJ Hospital after the family demanded an in-camera autopsy. The final cause of death has been reserved.
“The day she took tablets, she returned home and complained of stomach ache. Next day she skipped school,” said Aziz Patel, a resident of Sanjay Nagar, where Chandani lived. On Wednesday, when the sixth grade student felt better, she returned to school for two days until Thursday night, when her condition worsened.
“For two days, they did not go to any hospital. It was only yesterday that they showed her to a local doctor, who said she required an X-ray. They decided to take her to the hospital today but by morning, she had started vomiting blood,” Patel added.
Raza, a daily wage labourer in the shoe-making industry, alleged that the medicine dosage led to his daughter’s death. On Friday, the family demanded a probe into the matter after which her body was shifted for autopsy.
According to Rehan Ansari, in-charge of the Urdu-medium school in which Chandani studied, she was not well for the past few months. “In August, she attended school for only three days. In July, she came to school for 18 days,” he said, adding that while Chandani’s younger sister was regular, Chandani took several leaves.
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But her cousin, Alam Siddiqui, said Chandani was forced to take leave to look after her mother, Gudiya Shaikh, who was unwell. “Chandani was the eldest of four siblings. She would do house chores when her mother was ill. She had to miss school,” he said.
He alleged that while she took iron and folic acid tablets, her younger sister threw them away. “Immediately, she puked blood. But her teacher told her not to inform her parents about it,” alleged Siddiqui. Chandani suffered a burning sensation in her chest and vomited for three days. “On Thursday, we took her to Dr Safiq Khan’s Clinic on Road number 8, who asked us to come with an X-ray the next day,” he said.
On Friday morning, Chandani started vomiting blood. She died on her way to Rajawadi Hospital. She has two younger sisters and one brother. Her funeral was held in Govandi on Friday.
“It is highly unlikely that iron and folic acid tablets had anything to do with her demise. We are waiting for a detailed post-mortem report,” said a BMC health official.
Dr Padmaja Keskar, executive health officer, BMC, said, “The details of her previous illness are not known. There may be co-morbid factors involved. We administered medicines from the same batch in other schools but no adverse incident was reported.”