At 7:35pm on June 12, Maria Sultana, a student of Chattogram University, posted a status on Facebook – asking for an intensive care unit (ICU) bed for her critically-ill father.
Three hours later, at 10:34pm, she wrote in another status on social media, "No need for ICU anymore."
The three hours in between were a fight for an ICU bed to save freedom fighter Mizanur Rahman. The family lost the battle and the freedom fighter had to accept death.
Mizanur Rahman had been suffering from fever since June 3. On the night of June 11, he started experiencing shortness of breath and his oxygen level dropped. The next day, when he was admitted to the Chittagong Medical College Hospital, an X-ray showed that water had accumulated in his lungs. A hospital ward boy came and gave him oxygen.
In the meantime, another critical patient came to the ward and an oxygen line had to be shared between Mizanur Rahman and that patient. Mizanur Rahman's oxygen level was 78 percent before sharing the oxygen line. After sharing it, the level dropped to 56 percent. However, following the death of the other patient, after a short while, Mizanur Rahman was again given a single oxygen line. However, his oxygen level did not increase much.
There were no doctors or nurses in the ward. As Mizanur Rahman's oxygen level dropped, his family members described the situation to a doctor familiar to them, via mobile phone, and he advised them to take the patient to ICU. Then Mizanur Rahman's family members contacted the ICU of Chittagong Medical College and found out that there were no vacancies there.
Mizanur Rahman's family contacted Chittagong Mother and Child Hospital for ICU. There they were told that the hospital would not receive the suspected Covid-19 case. When they contacted the National Hospital Chattogram and Chattogram Metropolitan Hospital for an ICU bed, the authorities at the private hospitals said they would not take patients with breathing problems and there were no vacancies in their ICUs.
When the family contacted the Covid-19 dedicated hospital Holy Crescent, it initially wanted to take the patient to the ICU, but later refused.
Starting from the officer-in-charge of Kotwali Police Station, Mizanur Rahman's family had contacted the president of Bangladesh Medical Association in Chattogram for an ICU bed. However, no one could help them. All their efforts failed and Mizanur Rahman took his last breath at 10:30pm. However, his family had to struggle even to do his ECG after his death.
Whether Mizanur Rahman had been infected with the novel coronavirus cannot be determined as his sample was not collected after his death.
Maria Sultana alleged that the beds at the ICUs of the hospitals were vacant, however they did not receive her father. "Those beds are reserved for VIPs. That is why that night a senior officer got a bed in the ICU of Chittagong Medical College Hospital."
"My father fought and gave you a country and you could not give my father an ICU bed," said the bereaved daughter of the freedom fighter.
The demand for ICU beds for critical patients is increasing due to an increase in the number of novel coronavirus cases in the country.
Recently, in the port city of Chattogram, the number of deaths from Covid-19 and breathing problems is increasing due to a lack of ICU beds.
According to the Directorate General of Health Services, there are 399 ICU beds for Covid-19 patients. In Chattogram, the number of novel coronavirus patients has surpassed 5,000, but there are only 24 ICU beds.