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A fight to the finish at the hospital

M. Karunanidhi’s 11-day stay in hospital, his doctors said, was also a reflection of the way he lived his life — fighting one battle after another, undeterred, until it was no longer possible to fight the inevitable.

It started with an urinary tract infection that was managed at home, initially. As the infection took root, even as treatment continued, his blood pressure dropped late on July 27, leading to his hospitalisation in the wee hours of July 28.

His physicians thought that rushing him to a hospital and pushing in inotropes to stabilise blood pressure would help, and he was shifted in an ambulance to Kauvery Hospital. While the situation seemed dire initially, doctors were glad when he responded very well and stabilised in literally textbook fashion.

With this kind of a recovery, his doctors were hopeful that he could be shifted home after observation for a mandatory period of time.

Meanwhile, an extensive investigation for the source of the infection was undertaken, and the doctors did not rule out the presence of tumours too. But there was no evidence and the infection finally subsided, marking yet another milestone in his hospital stay. These ‘ups’, which came after significant downturns, especially in a patient of advanced age, enthused doctors.

The septicaemia scare

Meanwhile, he slipped in and out of consciousness and it was only two days before he passed away that he completely lost consciousness, doctors recounted later. It was the septicaemia or blood stream infection that proved to be the final villain, leading to multi-organ failure.

In characteristic spirit, Karunanidhi fought against the infection in the single ICU unit allotted exclusively for him on the fourth floor of Kauvery Hospital. However, the septicaemia, a common enough affliction among elderly patients who have had an infection or have just recovered from one, proved to be quite tenacious.

His organs started to fail, jaundice set in after the liver started heading towards shutdown, and the kidneys were affected too. However, doctors swore that his heart and lungs were in perfect condition until the heart finally ebbed to a stop. His last hours were mostly peaceful, and he started gasping for breath only in the last few hours. He was never on the ventilator, and was breathing pretty much on his own with intermittent oxygen support after the breathlessness phase on Tuesday. It was a slow, systemic death, and the patient, as is his wont, did not give up until the very last, his doctors said.

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