On Saturday, Batra hospital prepared a list titled ‘expired patients list on May 1’, of 12 patients who died due to lack of oxygen supply. On it, at the 10th spot, was the name of one of their own — Dr R K Himthani (62). The hospital, which has 302 Covid patients, ran out of the oxygen supply for one hour 20 minutes on Saturday, leading to the deaths.
Heading the hospital’s department of gastroenteritis since its inception, he was admitted in the medical intensive care unit of the hospital, weeks after getting infected with Covid-19. His colleagues, acquaintances and friends who have known him all along said they can’t believe the doctor, with the “ever smiling face”, is no more.
Dr Vipul Batra, senior consultant from the department of plastic surgery at Batra hospital, told The Indian Express: “He had been coming to the hospital since the beginning of the pandemic. He did not stop working. Professionally, he was always available for his patients and used to go the extra mile to make sure all his patients were fine. We used to get calls from him making personal requests regarding his patients.”
According to the hospital, his wife is currently admitted in the hospital and is availing treatment for Covid. While her condition is stable, Dr Himthani was admitted to the critical care unit for almost two weeks.
Recalling the phone call with his daughter on Saturday morning, Dr Randhir Sud, Chairman, Institute of Digestive and Hepatobiliary Sciences, Medanta, said they were contemplating shifting him to Medanta for further treatment.
“I had received a call from his daughter early Saturday morning and we were planning to shift him to Medanta. We didn’t know something like this would happen. All of us are devastated. He was a thorough gentleman, always pleasant to talk to. It’s a great loss,” said Dr Sud.
With an experience of 33 years in this field, Dr Himthani joined Batra hospital when the administration was planning to start the department. He had completed MBBS from Gandhi Medical College, Bhopal, in 1977; MD from Gandhi Medical College, Bhopal, in 1981; and DM Gastroenterology from Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh in 1985.
“He was a simple, affectionate and a happy-go-lucky man. It’s extremely sad to see his exit like this. We know we are dealing with unprecedented times. But the incident is extremely tragic. We will always remember him as a dedicated clinician for whom the profession and his patients always came first,” said Dr Ajay Kumar chairman, head of department, BLK Institute for Digestive & Liver Diseases.