It was midnight on April 16 in New Delhi, and Sujata Hinjurani was trying hard to find her father a hospital bed.
His oxygen levels plummeted that evening. Doctors said he needed to be hospitalized immediately.
She went to seven hospitals around town, and alerted her sister, Supria Das, who was waiting at home with the ambulance.
Finally at five in the morning I found an open bed at Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital, a government facility in the city center. The employees there performed a rapid test of Malay Kumar Chatterjee, 82, for the Coronavirus. That was positive.
About three weeks ago, her father and mother received their first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, known in India as Covishield.
The ordeal of Sugata and Supriya has become frighteningly normal in India. The country recorded more than 250,000 deaths and more than 23.3 million cases in light of an unexpected second wave of the epidemic. Experts say the losses may be higher: many hospitals are full; Crematoriums and graves accumulate.
In this city of 21 million people, finding the right care is nearly impossible.
Leave: Sujata Hinjurani lost her parents after being infected with the Coronavirus in New Delhi. (Rebecca Conway for The Washington Post) right: Supria Chatterjee Das sits in her mother’s favorite chair in her New Delhi home. (Rebecca Conway for The Washington Post)
Two days after his admission, the family tried to contact their father. There was no answer. Keep trying.
At around 2:15 p.m., he picked up another patient.
“This person said that my father died two hours ago, and there were no doctors to examine,” Sugata said.
His loss made her feel helpless and angry.
“I had a feeling of guilt in my stomach that I couldn’t have put it in a better facility … where it would have been better taken care of.” In the end, she said, “I have no other choice.”
That evening, I went to collect his body from the morgue, but it was already closed; She had to wait until the next day.
Sugata last had a conversation with her father the day before.
“He said it was very depressing here … He had to go to the bathroom alone several times,” she said.
Before he got sick, her father would call her every afternoon, calling out her nicknames, which she now uses with her kids.
She said, “I was his girlfriend.” “I miss those afternoon conversations.”
It was Supria who reported the news to their mother. I was stunned.
Her mother said, “I spoke to him in the morning, and he asked me to pack the hospital’s belongings.” “what happened?”
When her mother said that she could not sleep alone that night, Supria fell asleep with her.
The next morning, Sujata returned to the morgue.
Her father, without any other family there, was cremated during a quick Mass in the dark.
Sugata hardly had time to mourn. While she was at the crematorium, her mother’s oxygen levels were dropping.
Sugata kept in close contact with Supriya, as she examined their mother, Indira Chatterjee, at VIMHANS Hospital.
The family wanted a private hospital, after their experience with their father in a government-run facility.
Indira, 72, tested positive for the virus, and a chest examination indicated that she had mild pneumonia.
In the hospital, as oxygen levels continued to fluctuate in Indira, the doctor prescribed remdesivir, an antiviral drug that helps treat Covid-19.
The drug was not readily available in a nearby hospital or pharmacy.
Finally, with the help of relatives, they managed to get six flasks. But there were times when no one was available to give the drug. Sugata briefed her uncle on the situation.
For several days, the hospital promised her mother would get a bed in intensive care so that she could get the oxygen she needed.
But Indira stayed in the emergency room.
The family then attempted to obtain Indira with a plasma transfer from a Covid-19 survivor.
They had to find the unproven treatment. They can only get convalescent plasma for their mothers’ blood group if they can replace it – by finding a survivor whose plasma can be used to treat another patient.
The search for a donor began.
For two days they sent calls for help on WhatsApp. The only donor they found was rejected due to low hemoglobin levels.
They find another donor and go to a plasma bank for testing. Wait for permission. The plasma will not be available until the next day.
“It was a roller coaster ride,” Sugata said. “We visited the hospital in the morning, afternoon and evening.”
When she wasn’t at her mom’s side, she was checking out with someone.
By noon, they caught the plasma and dashed into Indira. It was too late.
“On that day for the first time, she was unconscious,” Sugata said. Her fingers turned blue.
She died in the afternoon, while the paramedics were trying to intubate her.
“It would definitely have worked if she got enough oxygen that she needs at that particular time,” Sugata said. Nothing worked.
The family burned her mother the next day, after facing the same backlog and waiting times they had with their father just nine days before.
She shared her pain and anger with the world on Twitter.
“We had a lot to do together,” Supria wrote three days later, and her mother remembers her daughter’s seventh birthday. “Who will [I] Eat my red wine now. … for whom would I order their favorite chicken roll. … for whomever i will order her favorite chinese. … who would buy me the bed sheets every day and every memory. Who will repeat the same thing 10 days [in a row] And it annoys me …
“My companion is my best friend … my broadcaster.”