New Delhi: The 23-year-old girl, battling for life for the past 10 days at Safdarjung hospital after being brutally gang-raped, was tonight flown to Singapore in an air ambulance for specialized treatment in a premier hospital.
The girl, who continues to be in a critical condition, will be admitted to Mount Elizabeth hospital, which has a state-of-the-art facility for multi-organ transplant, Dr B.D. Athani, medical superintendent of the Safdarjung Hospital, told reporters.
The private chartered air ambulance belonging to ARE Airways, which is equipped with sophisticated ICU facilities, took off at around 11.45pm.
Dr Yatin Gupta, head of the critical care unit(CCU) at Safdarjung hospital, and a team of four doctors along with the girl’s parents are accompanying the girl.
People aware of the development said passport and Singapaore visa for the girl and some of her family members who will accompany her in the air ambulance were expedited by the external affairs ministry.
The sources said the Indian High Commission in Singapore has been asked by the government here to render all assistance for the girl.
Sources said the decision to shift the girl to Singapore was taken at the highest level of the government.
Dr Athani said based on the advice of a team of doctors, the government made arrangements for the patient to be transported in a well-equipped air ambulance which will entail minimum travel.
The flying time between Delhi and Singapore is five-and-a-half hours.
“The team of doctors decided that the patient be shifted to Mount Elizabeth Hospital (in Singapore). The said hospital has the state-of-the-art facility for multi-organ transplant. The treatment might take longer,” Dr Athani said.
The girl has suffered severe intestinal and abdominal injuries, he said, adding that the girl will have to undergo treatment in Singapore for some weeks. Parts of the girl’s intenstine were surgically removed. “She was being provided the best available aid by a team of specialized doctors. She had to be operated upon thrice,” he said.
He suggested that Singapore was chosen as it was closer to India and the hospital has state-of-the-art multi-organ transplant facility. The girl has been on ventilator support for most part of the treatment.
A meeting of the Union cabinet presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh earlier on Wednesday mulled various options on further treatment of the victim but left it to the doctors to take a final decision.
Official sources said government will bear all expenses of the girl’s treatment in Singapore.
The victim, whom doctors described as “psychologically composed and optimistic about future”, had shown signs of improvement during treatment but her condition worsened late last night after her pulse rate plummetted for a brief period. The periodic bouts of infection were also a source of concern for the doctors.
Earlier, AFP said the 23-year-old, whose attack sparked protests across India, was moved from Safdarjung hospital in central Delhi to Medanta hospital in Gurgaon, close to the city’s international airport.
“The decision was taken this morning at cabinet,” said the source. “Her mother and father are with her.”
The government had earlier announced it was setting up a special commission of inquiry after the gang-rape on 16 December when the woman was allegedly tricked into boarding a bus by six men who then took turns to assault her.
The group also attacked her with an iron bar before throwing out of the vehicle, along with a male companion.
Six suspects have been arrested in connection with the attack and have been remanded in custody.