Inside story: The shocking death of Chennai footballer Priya and how doctors' apathy killed her dream!

For 18-year-old Priya, who was a resident of Vyasarbadi, Chennai, football was everything - she lived and loved the game and was an ace footballer who bagged numerous accolades. Her passion to play didn't stop her hope of becoming a champion but also gave her hope that she would get a government job through her talent. But, all her hopes got disgruntled as she lost her life, days after losing her leg, and all due to apathy from the doctors. 

Priya was a first-year student in the Physical Education department at Queen Mary's College in Chennai. Hailing from a downtrodden family, Priya developed a passion to play football at a young age and she has a league of fans from her family and community. She has won several recognitions at district and state-level games. When she was gearing up with her sporting spirit, her health issues halted her journey and the medical professionals finally ended it. 

It has been reported that Priya was suffering from leg pain and she was initially taken to the Government Peripheral Hospital in Periyar Nagar last month. The doctors at the hospital told Priya on October 26 that a ligament tear was detected on her right knee and it should be fixed through surgery. According to reports, Priya and her family met the doctors at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital and sought a second opinion on her leg pain and on the advised surgery.  

The doctors at Rajiv Gandhi Hospital advised Priya to undergo the surgery as advised by the Government Peripheral Hospital as this medical facility was close to her residence. She was admitted to the Periyar Nagar hospital and the surgery was performed on November 7. However, after the surgery, Priya began complaining of severe pain in her legs. Later, there was a suspected blood clot in her leg and she was then shifted to the Rajiv Gandhi government hospital for further treatment. 

The doctors at the Rajiv Gandhi government hospital did medical investigations and found that the tissues in Priya's right leg were dead and that her right leg has to be removed to save her life. It was reported that it was due to the medical apathy of the doctors at the Periyar Nagar hospital that caused her a health setback as she lost her tissues and went on to lose a leg. Her family members and relatives staged a protest against the doctors of the Periyar Nagar hospital by alleging that they were the reason why she lost her leg. 

In the midst of the protests, Priya's leg was removed on November 9. However, the pain endured by her didn't subdue. She was operated on for the second time as her condition didn't improve and this second follow-up surgery was done at the Rajiv Gandhi government hospital on Monday- November 14. She was put on ventilator support and was monitored by the doctors. 

Speaking to a news agency, Rajiv Gandhi hospital dean Dr. Theranirajan said that the treatment plan for Priya is to ensure that there is no further death of body tissue or organ failure. However, amid the treatments, Priya breathed her last on Tuesday- November 15. Her death has sparked heatwaves across the state as the news of her demise stirred outcry against the Periyar Nagar government hospital and the doctors who operated with negligence. 

Several people gathered before the hospital and demanded the government take action against the doctors responsible for Priya's death. There was a sense of distress and tension at Priya's residence where her family and relatives broke out into tears. As the matter has drawn statewide attention, several political leaders including ADMK's Edappadi Palaniswami met the girl's family and urged the government to provide Rs 1 crore as solatium. 

Priya's mortal remains were later handed over to her family and the government launched an investigation into her death. Speaking to the reporters at the Rajiv Gandhi government hospital on Tuesday, Tamil Nadu Health Minister Ma Subramanian said, "We have learned from the medical inquiry committee that neglect by two doctors at the Periyar Nagar government hospital is one of the reasons for her death." 

He further said, "Due to lack of attention from the doctors, the compression bandage used on Priya after she underwent a procedure called arthroscopy at the Periyar Nagar government hospital was too tight. It affected the blood flow causing the veins to decay. She was shifted to Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital on November 8 because of the pain she was experiencing and other effects." 

"After Priya's case came to the attention of Chief Minister MK Stalin, I visited her at the hospital on November 13. The Chief Minister had ordered that Priya's condition be monitored closely", Subramanian added, and stated that the state government had enquired in detail about the treatment that she was receiving. He said that when she met Priya, she was doing well. The minister cited that the damage to her veins warranted intensive treatment.

Subramanian said that since blood flow had stopped due to the damage to her veins, there was a need to treat her in the Intensive Care Unit. "A team of doctors, including an orthopedic, knee specialist, aesthetician, urologist, and other senior doctors were attending to her. Late last night, her kidneys, liver, heart, and other organs started to fail", the minister added with a demand not to politicize her death. 

Priya breathed her last at 7 am on Tuesday and in the wake of the outrage, the Director of Medical Education, Kilpauk, has passed the orders of suspending two doctors -Somasundar and Balram Shankar of the Periyar Nagar hospital for their negligence that caused the footballer lost her life. The order said that the two doctors were suspended from service with immediate effect until further orders. On the other hand, Health Minister Ma Subramanian said that Rs 10 lakh will be provided to Priya's family as compensation along with a government job for one of her brothers.