This is a story of a father who had to take the toughest decision of his life – to donate the organs of his only child who was brain dead due to delayed treatment for a venomous snakebite.
In the first weekend of November 2017 Himanshu Vora, a 42-year-old lawyer from Bhavnagar, Gujarat, along with his wife Nita and 10-year-old son Manan went to Diu, a union territory near Gujarat, for a holiday. The family checked into the Kohinoor Resort in Diu on Friday, 3rd Nov and were slated to check out on Sunday, 5th Nov 2017. The resort had a swimming pool and play area for kids and Manan had a very good time frolicking in the water. The family spent the entire Saturday outdoors and visited the nearby local market in the evening. During their absence the hotel room service cleaned their room and changed the bedsheets.
The family came back late on Saturday night and went to sleep. Himanshu slept with his son on the double bed and Nita slept on the extra single bed close by. Around 7.30 am on Sunday, Manan complained of pain in his right shoulder. As Manan got up, Himanshu noticed a small blood stain on the bedsheet.
Within 10 minutes, Manan complained that his vison was blurred. He then wanted to go to the toilet and while sitting on the commode he started feeling nausea. Himanshu was perplexed and started looking for an insect that may have bitten his son. He looked all around. He even pulled the bedsheets…nothing! He then moved the pillow that Manan had used. To his horror, he found a sub-adult cobra resting under the pillow that his son had used. The snake hissed in self-defense and Himanshu ran towards the bathroom shouting for help.
The room they were allotted was on the ground floor. Himanshu called out for help from the balcony of his room in response to which the hotel staff came with a snake catching stick to relocate the snake.
Himanshu and Nita immediately took Manan to the newly constructed local Govt hospital in Diu which was 5 minutes away from the resort. Doctors in the hospital examined Manan. The hospital had only one vial of antivenom which was administered to Manan. He was then referred to Una, a small town close to Diu, for further treatment. By now Manan was experiencing respiratory distress. The hospital staff frantically looked for the driver of the ambulance parked in its compound. They were able to trace him only after 45 minutes. By then precious time was lost.
The ambulance that arrived to take Manan had an oxygen cylinder but no oxygen mask. Due to this, Manan was not given ventilatory support while being transported. By now, Manan was suffering immense respiratory distress.
Himanshu was uncontrollably distressed and tried reaching as many people as possible who could help to save his son. The ambulance reached Una around 9 am. Manan was admitted with cardiac arrest. Dr Divyakant Solanki immediately resuscitated him and put him on life support. They then administered 10 vials of antivenom and another 6 vials after 6 hours. The doctors and Manan’s family waited for him to revive after he received treatment. Hours passed but Manan did not revive consciousness.
After 24 hours of admission at the hospital in Una, doctors treating Manan informed the family that the patient was stable and his heart was functioning normally but there was no brain activity. By now Himanshu’s extended family had arrived at Una.
Manan needed to be in a hospital where they could carry out further tests. The doctors discharged him late night on 6th Nov and he was rushed to a hospital in Bhavnagar in the wee hours of 7th Nov, 2017. A CT scan at the Bhavnagar hospital showed no brain activity. On 8th Nov, the treating doctor approached the parents to counsel them about the condition of their brain-dead child and whether they wished to donate his organs. Himanshu and Nita were horrified at this suggestion and questioned the doctor’s ethics for suggesting such a plan when it could be seen clearly that their son’s heart was functioning normally.
It took some convincing and eventually the parents decided to donate their son’s organs. Manas’s liver was given to a 65-year-old male patient from Ahmedabad. His kidneys were donated to a 44-year male from Baroda and a 49-year male patient from Morbi (near Rajkot).
Manan was born on 2nd March 2007 and died on 9th Nov 2017. He was a foodie, loved to draw and enjoyed swimming. Besides cricket, he was also good at math. He was unsure whether he should be a pilot or a chartered accountant when he grew up.
It was hard for Manan’s parents to cope with his loss. Eventually they visited each of the three organ recipients and continue to keep in touch with them on a regular basis.
It is six months since Manan’s death. Everyday his parents begin their day by remembering how they spent their last few days with Manan. The self-searching journey of the grieving parents continues.
The resort staff were well aware of the presence of snakes on their property and had snake handling equipment to relocate / catch snakes. How ever there was no signs of safety nor preparedness in a case of emergency in a snakebite situation. To compound the issue, the hospital in Diu did not have a stock of snake antivenom. While the hospital was a newly constructed facility having OT (Operation Theatre), it was not equipped to handle snakebite cases. Considering the fact that there is a healthy distribution of venomous snakes in Diu, it is but logical that both, the resort and the local hospital should have been equipped to handle such situations.
Manan didn’t die from snakebite; Absence of snake antivenom killed him!
Written by Priyanka Kadam (as narrated by Himanshu & Nita Vora).