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Friday, May 07, 2021

In 15 days, four of IAF officer’s kin fall to virus

Arun Gaikwad, a superintendent (logistics) with the Indian Air Force, lost his father-in-law in January this year. His brother-in-law Rohit, who was admitted to Baner Covid Care Centre, died on April 3, mother-in-law on April 4, and another brother-in-law Atul on April 14.

Written by Manoj Dattatrye More | Pune |
Updated: April 19, 2021 7:22:37 am
Arun GaikwadAir Force officer Arun Gaikwad lost his wife and three relatives to Covid-19 in a span of two weeks in Lohegaon in Pune. His mother and two children also tested positive for the virus and are undergoing treatment.

Four members of a family in Lohegaon have died from Covid-19 in the past two weeks. The deceased had tested positive for the infection in the days following a small puja they had organised for a family member who had died of a brain stroke in January.

Arun Gaikwad, a superintendent (logistics) with the Indian Air Force, told The Indian Express that the deceased included his wife Vaishali (43), mother-in-law Alka Jadhav (62) and brothers-in-law Rohit (38) and Atul (40).

Gaikwad’s mother and two children have also tested positive and are undergoing treatment. “My mother does not know that my wife and her three close relatives have died,” said Gaikwad.

On March 15, Gaikwad’s in-laws organised a small pooja in memory of his wife’s father, who had died on January 15. “My father-in-law had died of a brain stroke on January 15. As per custom, my in-laws had organised a pooja at their residence in Dhanori. I had also gone there but left the place early,” said Gaikwad.

On March 16, Gaikwad’s brother-in-law Rohit Jadhav developed a fever and was admitted to a hospital. His mother and brother, Atul, also developed Covid-19 symptoms and were admitted to hospitals.

On March 28, Gaikwad’s wife Vaishali reported breathing problems, so he started searching for a hospital for her. “I called up several hospitals but none of them had an oxygen bed available. One of my cousins then told me that Bharati hospital had a bed in Katraj. I took my wife there at 1 pm on March 28.

However, the hospital doctors said she needed a ventilator bed as her blood oxygen level was oscillating between 70 and 80 per cent. They asked me to take her elsewhere as they did not have a vacant ventilator bed,” said Gaikwad. Vaishali had co-morbidities like diabetes and a heart ailment.

Gaikwad said his cousin then informed him that there were 25 beds vacant at the jumbo hospital in Shivajinagar, according to the PMC’s dashboard. “Bharati hospital was kind enough to provide me a cardiac ambulance. We then went to the Jumbo hospital and reached there at 3 pm. To my shock, the gates of the hospital were locked and they refused to open. After repeated knocking, they asked me to call the doctors on helpline numbers. It took me 15 minutes to get in touch with the doctors, who then said they will get back to me. Half an hour later, they said they don’t have a vacant bed. I told them that their dashboard was showing 25 beds. They said the information on the dashboard was incorrect,” said Gaikwad.

Gaikwad then took his wife to Ruby Hall Clinic, where he was told to go to the Hinjewadi branch, 25 km away. “Instead, we went first to Sassoon Hospital, which was chock-a-block with patients. By this time, I was in complete shock…I then decided to go to the nearby PMC-run Naidu hospital. The doctors there scolded me, asking me who told me to come to Naidu…Like the jumbo hospital, they refused to even examine Vaishali. All this while, my wife was in the ambulance, which was also running out of oxygen,” Gaikwad said.

One of his relatives who knew a doctor in a Khed Shivapur hospital then told him that a ventilator bed was available there, Gaikwad recalled. “I took my wife to Khed Shivapur hospital and admitted her at 7 pm, six hours after her breathing troubles started,” he said, adding that her oxygen level had dropped to 60 per cent by then.

On March 29, he spoke to his wife, who said she was feeling much better. “On March 30 morning, I was busy with my mother and two children, who had also tested positive. I admitted them to a hospital. By evening, I got a call from Khed Shivapur hospital. The doctors said my wife was in extremely critical condition. When I reached the hospital, she had passed away…” he said.

“She had sailed through successfully after a bout of illness a few years ago…I told her to keep patience and remember how she had fought her illness earlier. I was confident that she would come out this time, too…she was a very strong woman…” he said.

Gaikwad said his brother-in-law Rohit, who was admitted to Baner Covid Care Centre, died on April 3, his mother-in-law died on April 4 and the other brother-in-law Atul died on April 14. “My mother-in-law had asthma but the two brothers-in-law had no co-morbidities. One of them was constantly chatting with me on WhatsApp, he was confident he would be discharged soon…I have no clue what went wrong with them,” he said.

Both his brothers-in-law have two children each. One is survived by a two-year-old baby while the other children are in school.

Gaikwad, who has been working with the Indian Air Force for 27 years, said, “The Jadhav family has been almost wiped out in the past 45 days. Now, the wives of my two brothers-in-law, their four children and my two children, besides my mother, are all that’s left…I am worried about their future…I don’t think any other family in Pune has suffered this kind of a tragedy…”

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