Singapore: The 23-year-old victim of the brutal gang-rape and assault in Delhi that had triggered an outrage across India died early this morning here after putting up a brave battle for life for nearly a fortnight.
The girl, who was admitted to the well-known multi-organ transplant facility Mount Elizabeth Hospital here on Thursday morning in an extremely critical condition, breathed her last at 4:45 AM (2:15 AM India time). She was earlier treated at the Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi.
"We are very sad to report that the patient passed away peacefully at 4.45am on 29 Dec 2012 (Singapore time)," the hospital's Chief Executive Officer Dr Kelvin Loh said in a statement.
"Her family and officials from the High Commission of India were by her side. The Mount Elizabeth Hospital team of doctors, nurses and staff join her family in mourning her loss," the statement said.
Brain swelling led to death
Serious swelling in the brain resulting from the cardiac arrest she suffered a few days ago was an ‘important cause’ that led to the death of 23-year-old gang-rape victim who fought for her life with ‘great fortitude and courage’.
Cerebral edema, a condition characterised by excess accumulation of water in the intracellular or extracellular spaces of the brain, proved fatal in the case of the paramedic student who was airlifted to Singapore on Wednesday night for specialised treatment.
The young girl suffered a cardiac arrest on Tuesday night which caused severe injuries to her brain as well.
Complications in brain along with multi-organ failure took the life of the victim at the Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.
"Brain injury is an important cause for the death. She suffered a cardiac arrest at Safdarjung Hospital on Tuesday. This could have caused the brain injury and she also suffered from multi-organ failure," Dr Yatin Mehta, Chairman Institute of Critical Care and Anaesthesiology at Medanta Medicity, told the media.
He said that in such cases the death is finally due to cardiac arrest.
Mehta, who was by the side of the girl in the air ambulance in which she was airlifted to Singapore, said the girl's blood pressure was normal and her heart was pumping blood till last evening when he had left Singapore for India.
"Her lungs were infected slightly yesterday but her blood pressure was normal," he said, adding that she was an ‘extremely brave girl’ and a ‘role model’ who fought back after suffering grievous injuries.
Cerebral edema is a serious medical condition where there is way more fluid in the skull than there should be causing swelling in brain which compromises its own blood flow.
The body has been moved to the mortuary in the Singapore General Hospital and will be flown back to India by a chartered plane. Accompanied by her family, the body is expected to arrive in Delhi in the night.
President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and a host of political leaders condoled the death of the girl and paid rich tributes to the victim of the sexual assault for her brave fight.
The girl was raped and brutally assaulted in a moving bus by six men in Delhi on December 16 and thrown out along with her companion.
Indian High Commissioner T.C.A Raghavan told reporters that the family was yet to decide on the plans for the last rites back home.
He said the girl fought a brave battle till the end. She was brought to Singapore for being provided good medical treatment.
The envoy "The family is shattered by this development. At the same time, they realised that best possible medical attention was given. And in the end it was the scale of injuries that proved too much for the medical attention provided to her".
He said the final few hours was a trying time for the girl's family and they bore the entire process with a great deal of fortitude and courage.
Raghavan said he has passed on the condolence message of the Prime Minister to the family in which he had spoken of the desire to make India a demonstrably better and safe place for women to live in.
Raghavan said the High Commission has received numerous messages from various quarters including the Singapore government deeply mourning the death.
He appreciated the help extended by the Singapore Foreign Ministry, the government and the Mount Elizabeth Hospital for all their support in the last two days.
Replying to questions on the shifting of the girl from Delhi to Singapore, he said consultations were held between doctors of Safdarjung hospital and Mount Elizabeth Hospital and they must have given full thought to it before taking it.
Asked whether doctors felt that she could have died to her shift from Delhi to Singapore, Raghavan said "no such sentiments was expressed to me. Both the doctors (P K Verma of Safdarjung and Yatin Mehta of Medanta Medicity) said she was very badly injured in the assault of December 16 night".
He said the best possible treatment was given to the girl in Delhi and in Singapore and the cause of her death was ‘the injuries she sustained’.
"All possible medical efforts were made to treat the injuries. The efforts were not successful in helping her to overcome the injuries," he said.
Declining to go into the details of the family, he said they had requested that the privacy of their identity be protected.
Meanwhile, the hospital added: "We are humbled by the privilege of being tasked to care for her in her final struggle. We acknowledge the faith the Indian Government and the patient's family have placed with us to ensure the best care possible was indeed provided to her at Mount Elizabeth Hospital".
"We share their huge sadness at her passing and will work with the High Commission of India to provide the family support in this time of grief," said Dr Loh.
Late last night, the hospital said the condition of the rape victim had taken a ‘turn for the worse’.
"As of 9 pm (6:30 PM IST), the patient's condition has taken a turn for the worse. Her vital signs are deteriorating with signs of severe organ failure," Loh had said in a statement.
"This is despite doctors fighting for her life including putting her on maximum artificial ventilation support, optimal antibiotic doses as well as stimulants which maximise her body's capability to fight infections," the CEO had said.
During her treatment in Safdarjung Hospital, the girl's condition had recorded several ups and downs. Three days after the attack, her gangrenous intestine was removed. The beastial attack on the girl and her male friend in the bus had sparked off protests by students and women activists which took a violent turn in the capital last Saturday and Sunday.
Death for rapists was one of the demands of the protesters and the victim's demise could trigger fresh display of emotions on the streets.
One of the Delhi police constables Subhash Chand Tomar died in a government hospital on Tuesday and the post-mortem report had said that he had suffered a cardiac arrest from complications arising out of injuries on his chest and neck.
Shaken by the public outrage, government constituted a Commission of Inquiry into the incident and also set up a three-member Committee under former Supreme Court Chief Justice A.S. Anand to look into the possibility of rewriting the laws relating to aggravated sexual assault and enhancing penalty for it.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Friday demanded speedy action against the perpetrators of the ‘barbarous’ attack while Prime Minister said the government was committed to bringing the guilty to justice as soon as possible.