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42 Years in Coma: Indian Nurse Dies Decades After 1973 Assault

Image: 42 Years in Coma: Indian Nurse Dies Decades After 1973 Assault
Indian nurses gather to pay their respect for nurse Aruna Shanbaug at a hospital in Mumbai on May 18, 2015. (Punit Paranjpe/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Monday, 18 May 2015 03:43 PM

An Indian nurse who spent 42 years in a coma after being sexually assaulted has died, reports said Monday.

Nurse Aruna Shanbaug was just 25 years old when she was sodomized, strangled with a metal dog chain, and left to die by a male orderly in the basement of Kings Edward Memorial Hospital in Mumbai.

She was found with severe brain damage 11 hours later, and has remained in a vegetative state ever since.

Across the decades, Shanbaug's family said they were unable to continue supporting her, however the nurses at the hospital volunteered to take turns caring for her and administering her feeding tube.

Collectively, they also opposed a petition to euthanize her by taking her off life support. That petition was halted by the Indian Supreme Court, but did lay the groundwork for the eventual legalization of life-support withdrawal.

"She breathed on her own, responded slightly to light, and could swallow and digest soft food," said Dr. Roop Gursahani, a neurologist who examined Shanbaug in 2011, told The New York Times. He said she didn't have a single bedsore because the nurses took such good care of her.

"As far as I know, she is the longest-living survivor of a persistent vegetative state," he added.

Shanbaug's assailant, Sohanlal Bharta Walmiki, was sentenced to seven years in prison for robbery and attempted murder, but was not charged with rape because Indian rape laws at the time did not include sodomy under the definition of rape.

"We have a hundred patients in a very crowded ward, but still each and every one of us cared for her personally," Anuradha Parade, a nurse who came to know Shanbaug in her vegetative state, told the Times. "We are so glad that we could give Aruna a natural death."

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An Indian nurse who spent 42 years in a coma after being sexually assaulted has died, reports said Monday.
42 years, coma, nurse, dies
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2015-43-18
Monday, 18 May 2015 03:43 PM
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