High-achieving medical student dies 10 days before starting house job

High-achieving medical student dies 10 days before starting house job

ISLAMABAD: Anam Rustam, a student from the pioneer batch of the Federal Medical and Dental College (FMDC), died at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims), the same hospital where she was to start her house job in just 10 days.

Rustam died of carbon monoxide poisoning due to a gas leak, after an instant water heater affixed inside a bathroom was leaking gas despite being turned off.

It took Rustam four days to reach Pims, as ambulances were not allowed to travel to Pims on the day of the incident because of the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) Summit. She was admitted to a private hospital for four days before she was shifted to Pims.

Rustam was a scholarship winning student from her primary education up to her MBBS degree.

FMDC has also announced a gold medal and a cash prize in her name for one student a year on the basis of overall performance at the college.

Rustam Khan, the father of the deceased, is a superintendent at the National Institute of Health (NIH) and lives in a colony in Chak Shahzad.

He told Dawn that everything went wrong after the gas leak.

“My daughter went to the bathroom to take a shower around 8pm on Feb 28 but did not come out for a long time. At 8:30pm we tried to call her and when we did not get a response, we broke down the door and found her unconscious,” he said.

“We first went to the hospital near NIH, where the doctors provided first aid and suggested we shift Anam to Pims and provided an ambulance. We travelled via Murree Road towards Pims, but the ambulance was stopped by law enforcement officials because Kashmir Avenue was blocked for the ECO Summit.”

“We then rushed towards Faizabad, and because we were not aware that we would be allowed to travel on the expressway, we shifted Anam to a private hospital where they kept her for four days. On March 4, the FMDC management learnt that their student was in a private hospital and shifted her to Pims and put her on a ventilator. However, she died on March 5,” he said.

Mr Khan asked the government that ambulances not be stopped for security reasons, as the practice can cost lives.

He added: “My daughter was a brilliant student who won scholarships from the primary level to her MBBS. No one can give life to my daughter now, so I request the government to introduce a scholarship in her name so she is remembered.”

Pims Vice Chancellor Dr Javed Akram said the incident was not just a loss for the family but also for the state, saying the FMDC was a public-sector hospital that spent a great sum to make Anam a doctor.

“She joined the FMDC in the pioneer batch in 2013 and was a brilliant student, as well as a very good debater and a very good athlete,”he added.

“According to our investigation, the incident took place because the instant water heater that was fixed in the bathroom turned off for some reason while Anam was in the bathroom, but the flow of gas did not stop. As a result, Anam suffocated and lost consciousness.”

“A public service message should be circulated on every platform stating that gas appliances should be fixed outside bathrooms, preferably in open areas. Legislation should also be passed to raise awareness among plumbers as, during the winter season, incidents of gas leaks increase and we get five times the number of patients at the Pims Burn Centre,” he said.

Dr Akram added that it has been decided that an Anam Gold Medal, based on curricular and extracurricular performance, as well as Rs100,000 in cash will be given to one student each year.

“This year, the medal will be given to Anam’s father, and from next year it will be given to a student,” he said.

Published in Dawn, March 12th, 2017

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