Girl taken off ventilator, but antibodies drop

Five days after the brutal gang rape, the 23-year-old woman continues to battle for life. While she was weaned off the ventilator on Friday, a sharp fall in her white blood cell (WBC) count and increased bilirubin level have got doctors worried as it indicates spread of infection. 
    Doctors put her off ventilator support from Thursday noon to 2am on Friday on trial. As she could breathe on her own, ventilator support was again removed on Friday at 3pm. “She is giving mixed response to treatment. That she can breathe on her own is a positive sign. Her respiratory rate and other vital parameters are well within limits. We have never seen such injuries on a sexual assault victim. The improvement she has shown in the last five days is remarkable,’’ said Dr B D Athani, medical superintendent, Safdarjung Hospital. 
    After being taken off ventilator, she spoke to her mother. “She remains critical... (but) her condition is stable. We gave water and put her on total parenteral nutrition that contains carbohydrate, protein and fat. She is being fed intravenously,’’ a doctor said. 
    The main concern is the drop in WBC count to 1,500 and the bilirubin level touching 5. “This indicates septicaemia setting in. Her platelet count fell to 31,000 in the morning but then increased to 61,000. Increase in bilirubin level indicates jaundice. One good thing is that we have not had to give her any blood transfusion for 24 hours as it reduces immunity. She is on prophylactic antibiotics to control further spread of infection,’’ said Dr Athani. 
    Doctors exhorted protesters to free up the hospital 
premises. “Your agitation should not be an obstacle for others. Please don’t protest on the premises as patients get disturbed,’’ said Dr Athani. Doctors also said politicians and others should avoid coming to the hospital to meet the victim. “She is in the ICU. Asthere is a danger of infection, we are trying our best to keep her infection-free. We are maintaining high standards of hygiene. If more people visit her, the chances of her contracting infection will increase. We are not letting anybody except her attendant doctors and one family member meet her,’’ said a doctor. 
    Sir Ganga Ram Hospital has offered a free intestinal transplant and subsequent treatment. But doctors monitoring her condition say the main priority is that she recovers from trauma.

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