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Pro-life award goes to hospital staff

Matron and nurses recognised for taking long-term care of rape victim

Staff accept their award from Bishop Gracias of Bombay Staff accept their award from Bishop Gracias of Bombay
  • ucanews.com reporter, Mumbai
  • India
  • April 27, 2011
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Bombay archdiocese has given its pro-life award this year to nurses of a government hospital for taking care of a patient in a vegetative state for the past 37 years.

Auxiliary Bishop Agnelo Gracias of Bombay presented the award at a function at the King Edward Memorial Hospital in Mumbai on April 25.

The prelate said yesterday that the archdiocese wanted to honor the matron and nurses for “their exemplary care and concern” for Aruna Shanbaug, a rape victim.

The annual Sister M. Annunciata RGS Golden Jubilee Award was started five years ago to recognize an individual or institution that contributes to the pro-life cause, the bishop said.

The award normally consists of a silver plaque. “This is the first time cash was given as a special case,” he added.

The archdiocese gave 100,000 rupees (US$2,220) and Anthony Sequeira, a Catholic physician, donated 300,000 rupees to the hospital staff.

Bishop Gracias told the nurses that the archdiocese applauds their stance that life is God’s gift and every human is “unique and precious in God’s eyes.”

The prelate rejected growing demand for the right to die with dignity. “We have no right to die – neither with dignity nor indignity. After God has brought us to life, we have a right to live with dignity and we die with serenity, surrendering our life to God at the proper moment,” he said.

The bishop went to Shanbaug’s room with a group. Enid Miranda, a physician and member of the Archdiocesan Human Life Committee, said the group prayed silently as the bishop placed a rose by the patient’s pillow.

Sequeira, 76, said his gesture was only a “a drop in the ocean” to thank the nurses and doctors for taking care of Shanbaug “in such exemplary way.”

Nirmala Rajgopal, the matron, said her people are “deeply touched” by the award and donation. “Aruna Shanbaug, our sister is a gift from God and we will love and take care of her till she breathes her last in the hospital,” she added.

Rajgopal said they would use the interest money from the award as a scholarship to train a deserving nurse every year.

Aruna Shanbaug was a nurse at the hospital. She was sexually assaulted by a hospital ward boy in 1973. He tried to strangle her with a dog chain which cut the blood and oxygen supply to her brain.

Related links:
Hospital's pro-life stance applauded
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