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Doctor Diaries: 'Born in the rain': Dr. Vandana Prabhu's story restores faith in humanity

M3 India Newsdesk Feb 23, 2020

In a new entry of the Doctor Diaries section, Dr. Vandana Prabhu, a noted Pulmonologist, recounts an incident from her early years as an intern, a deeply emotional experience that re-instilled her faith in humanity and made her feel proud to be a doctor. 

An unexpected incident can make the most regular day extraordinary. Something like that happened to me on a rainy night several years ago, when I was posted as an intern in a government hospital in Chennai.

Having just completed my MBBS, I was posted in the gynaecology department. I arrived on duty at 7 pm and was immediately summoned to assist a caesarean operation. Later, I came down to the labour ward and watched as the resident on duty conducted two difficult deliveries almost effortlessly.

In a couple of hours, I went up to the interns’ room to catch up on sleep, remembering to switch on my pager. I was sound asleep when it beeped loudly. I jumped up and rubbing my eyes, glanced at my watch. It was past midnight. I quickly put on my coat and rushed down to the labour ward. The night duty nurse was on the verandah and signalled me to join her.

It was raining heavily and amidst the thunder and lightning; I could barely make out the silhouette of an auto-rickshaw parked near the gate. Then we saw the auto driver shouting and waving at us.

Quickly, I grabbed an umbrella and rushed into the pouring rain. I peered into the auto, and with the help of my torch, could see a woman lying on the backseat; howling in pain and terror. She was obviously in the last stages of labour.

I turned to the auto driver and asked, “Where is her family? Is there no one accompanying her? I need someone to sign a consent form before we take her in.” The driver replied, “Doctor, I don’t think she has a family. I picked her up from near the red light area, she may be a sex worker. She would have died on the roadside if left alone, so I brought her here.”

I was shocked, but when I looked again, I could see the baby’s head emerging. The nurse came running with a delivery tray and said, “Be careful, doctor, this woman might be HIV-positive.” We looked at each other- both of us, in our hurry, had forgotten to wear gloves!

The woman was not in any position to be moved. We realised that we had to deliver the baby in the auto itself. I leaned in, caught hold of the tiny baby, and pulled it out. The nurse quickly wrapped the baby in towels. We were both drenched by now. I picked a pair of scissors and cut the umbilical cord, and tied off both ends.

The woman was finally shifted onto a stretcher and taken to the labour room. I was left carrying the small, wailing bundle in my arms. I turned back to see the auto driver standing at the gate. He was soaking wet, but smiling and wiping his tears. Suddenly, I realised that tears were streaming down my face too; diluted by the raindrops!

Doctor Diaries is M3 India's new blog section where we encourage our doctor members to share stories and anecdotes from their professional lives that may have made a deep personal impact. If you have a story to tell, write down your story and the lessons it left you with and share with us on email at editor@m3india.in. We will give it the audience that it deserves. Read more about Doctor Diaries here.


This was originally published on October 25, 2018.

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