<span class="story_body">A demonstrator holds a placard as she takes part in a protest rally in New Delhi on Dec 27, 2012. India's external Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, responding to a growing controversy over the move to send the 23-year-old gang rape victim to Singapore for treatment, said it was a "purely a medical decision".</span>
The Indian woman who was gang-raped in Delhi bus two weeks ago and become an anonymous symbol of the horror of sexual violence against women on the sub-continent is fighting for her life in a hospital in Singapore, where she was airlifted to on Thursday.
Dr. Kelvin Loh, the chief executive officer Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore, said that the 23-year-old woman’s condition has "taken a turn for the worse.”
"Her vital signs are deteriorating with signs of severe organ failure," he said in a statement.
"This is despite [the fact that] doctors [are] fighting for her life, including putting her on maximum artificial ventilation support, optimal antibiotic doses as well as stimulants which maximize her body's capability to fight infections."
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The young woman, whose identity remains private, was found to be suffering from significant brain injuries by Singaporean medical personnel. She has already undergone three abdominal operations and suffered a heart attack while in a Delhi hospital.
Loh added that the patient’s family have been informed of her status and are standing "by her side to encourage and comfort her.”
“A multi-disciplinary team of specialists has been working tirelessly to treat her since her arrival, and is doing everything possible to stabilize her condition,” he added.
Indian High Commissioner to Singapore Dr. T. C. A. Raghavan told the Press Trust of India: “Her family is aware that she is getting the best medical treatment at the hospital. The family is attending to her and we are trying to keep them near her.”
On Sunday December 16, the young woman, a medical student, was raped by at least four men in a private bus moving through Delhi. She and a male companion were beaten, tortured and thrown out naked onto the street. While police have made a number of arrests in the case, including the bus driver, protests continue to swirl unabated across India – with anger focused not only on rapists, but also on the police, the slow court system and on India’s attitude towards women.
Now, a controversy has arisen over her 2600-mile move from Delhi to Singapore.
According to reports, no less an authority than Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's cabinet decided on Wednesday to airlift the young woman to Singapore via special air ambulance. The government will also foot all her medical bills.
India's external affairs Minister Salman Khurshid has said that the decision to transport the young woman to a foreign state was not a political ploy.
"The shifting [of the patient] was not done due to some political reasons. It was done for medical purposes. It was purely a medical decision taken by the doctors," Khurshid said.
Similarly, home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde suggested that Singapore could provide superior medical facilities to those in India.
"She was shifted after taking opinions of doctors from [Delhi’s] Safdarjung hospital,” he told reporters.
“Trauma doctors were also consulted. She is still critical… We will give her the best of treatment. Be it Singapore, London or America, we will send her wherever possible so that she recovers soon.”
However, some medical experts in India are suspicious over the move.
An unnamed doctor who was part of a group of medical experts consulted on the transfer told The Hindu newspaper: "The question we were asked was whether it would be safe to move her. The question was not whether there were any deficiencies in treatment that would be met by moving her... She was being given the best possible care."
Samiran Nundy, chairman of the organ transplant and gastro-surgery department of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in Delhi, also questioned the logic of the transfer.
"I just can't understand why a critically ill patient with infection in blood and body, high-grade fever and on the ventilator is being transferred," he told The Hindu.
"It will take weeks in this case to even look into the possibility of an intestinal transplant so why hurry and take the patient out from a facility which works so well. It seems more of a political move."
Dr. Kaushal Kant Mishra, a senior orthopedic surgeon at Primus Hospital in Delhi, also raised doubts about the wisdom of moving the patient to Singapore.
“There is no question of a transplant at this stage,” he told The Hindu. “The infection has to be controlled first, and the patient stabilized. I do not understand what the hurry was to take the patient out. Safdarjung Hospital, like other major hospitals in India, have excellent medical facilities and doctors to take care of the critically-ill.”
Another senior doctor posed the question: “When the Prime Minister [of India] can be treated and operated [here in Delhi] what is the specific medical need to move a patient to Singapore?. What the government is saying does not seem to add up.”
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