A student from the fore-running batch of the Federal Medical and Dental College (FMDC) Islamabad, Anum Rustam, died at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), the same hospital from where she was to begin her house job in 10 days.
The cause of her death was carbon monoxide poisoning due to a gas leak, after an instant water heater affixed inside a bathroom leaked gas despite being turned off.
It took Rustam four days to reach PIMS, as ambulances were not allowed to travel to PIMS on the day of the incident due to the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) Summit. She was admitted to a private hospital until she could be shifted to PIMS.
She had been a scholarship winning high achiever throughout her academic life.
Rustam Khan, the father of the deceased, is a superintendent at the National Institute of Health (NIH) and lives in a colony in Chak Shahzad. He told the press, “My daughter went to the bathroom to take a shower around 8pm on Feb 28 but did not come out for a long time. At 8:30pm we tried to call her and when we did not get a response, we broke down the door and found her unconscious.”
“We first went to the hospital near NIH, where the doctors provided first aid and suggested we shift Anam to PIMS and provided an ambulance. We travelled via Murree Road towards PIMS, but the ambulance was stopped by law enforcement officials because Kashmir Avenue was blocked for the ECO Summit.” he said.
“We then rushed towards Faizabad, and because we were not aware that we would be allowed to travel on the expressway, we shifted Anam to a private hospital where they kept her for four days. On March 4, the FMDC management learnt that their student was in a private hospital and shifted her to PIMS and put her on a ventilator. However, she died on March 5,” he said.
Mr. Khan asked the government that ambulances not be stopped for security reasons, as the practice can cost lives. He added: “My daughter was a brilliant student who won scholarships from the primary level to her MBBS. No one can give life to my daughter now, so I request the government to introduce a scholarship in her name so she is remembered.”
PIMS Vice Chancellor Dr Javed Akram said the incident was not just a loss for the family but also for the state, saying the FMDC was a public-sector hospital that spent a great sum to make Anam a doctor.
“She joined the FMDC in the pioneer batch in 2013 and was a brilliant student, as well as a very good debater and a very good athlete,” he added.
“A public service message should be circulated on every platform stating that gas appliances should be fixed outside bathrooms, preferably in open areas. Legislation should also be passed to raise awareness among plumbers as, during the winter season, incidents of gas leaks increase and we get five times the number of patients at the PIMS Burns Centre,” he said.
Dr Akram added that it has been decided that an Anam Gold Medal, based on curricular and extracurricular performance, as well as Rs. 100, 000 in cash will be given to one student each year. “This year, the medal will be given to Anam’s father, and from next year it will be given to a student,” he said.