Sundeep Bhutoria

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ess bee

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Losing a close friend

I was scheduled to leave for America on the eve of October 8th, 2011, but could not due to the sudden turn of events. On October 6th afternoon, while finalising the last minute details for Sindur Khela on 8th October at Chaltabagan puja pandal, I was informed that my close friend Arun Bhutoria (picture) was rushed to the BelleVue Clinic straight from The Park Hotel gym where he had collapsed.
Arun was more like an elder brother and after my mother's death it was his guidance and support that saw me through. My first thoughts were that he must have taken ill due to the fluctuations in glucose level or may be due to over exertion at the gym. 
It was very natural for me to think so because only the previous night I was at his residence for a late dinner.
By the time I reached the hospital, I got a call that Arun had suffered a major cardiac arrest and his pulse was almost zero at the time of admission. 
However, with the support of all the modern medical techniques - pumping of the heart, electric shock and pace maker – he responded well and his heart became stable and his pulse normal.
His heart could be revived largely due to the efforts of the Bellevue Clinic and the presence of mind and promptness of the gym instructor at The Park, who, without wasting a moment on formalities of informing the duty manager and other managers (standard procedure in any five star hotel), took him to the BelleVue Clinic and told the driver to inform us.
I confess that my knowledge of medical matters and outdoor sports is almost zero. What I gathered from the medical experts is that the human brain can work for five minutes only without oxygen. In case of cardiac arrest the supply of oxygen to the brain snaps due to lack of blood flow and it stops functioning. In Arun's case, it sure took more than five minutes from the gym to the hospital.
The doctors said they'd have to wait and watch Arun for 48 hours as the real concern was with his oxygen-starved brain and not the heart. Arun was a non-smoker and never took any alcohol. He was a very disciplined person who hardly took his last meal post 9 pm.
On the 7th evening things were seemingly under control. His heart was working fine though his brain was still a matter of concern. The neurologists from Mumbai who saw Arun said his heart's revival was nothing short of a miracle. They felt it would take some time for his brain to become normal.
I learnt that the situation could have been much better if the oxygen requirement of his brain could be lessened. This is medically possible through the use of a Cold Suit or therapeutic hypothermia which is not available in India at present. This technology or medical procedure puts brain cells into suspended animation so that they can survive longer without oxygen, reducing the risk of irreversible brain damage.
But alas, even big hospitals in India don't have the Cold Suit. Forget the Cold Suit, I learnt that most hospitals lack AEDs (automated external defibrillator) which is a portable electronic device that automatically diagnoses the potentially life threatening cardiac arrhythmias or disorders of the heart rate (pulse) or heart rhythm, such as beating too fast (tachycardia), too slow (bradycardia), or irregularly. AEDs uses electrical therapy to check arrhythmias and restore normal functioning or rhythm.
I don’t think that in this country the best of gyms have this instrument although it costs less than US $1500.
On the morning of 8th October, as soon as the Chaltabagan program concluded, I got a call that Arun’s situation had worsened. I rushed to the hospital and was in front of him when Arun breathed his last.
At that moment it struck me why the gyms, which have the best sports equipment, don't keep any provision for AEDs to tackle emergencies or in situations like the one Arun was in. Currently, it is fashionable to tell people to be in shape but what matters more is to be healthy.
Even the best efforts of The Park Hotel gym instructor and his wife Suuchandra's prayers could not save Arun.
From whatever bits and scraps of information I have gathered, I have a feeling that had there been an AED, I would have had my weekly breakfast with Arun at the Flurry's.
May his soul rest in peace.
ess bee

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