The Girl in the Elevator

The Girl in the Elevator

I didn’t actually talk to her during my five years of med school. Only saw her occasionally, and noticed her even more infrequently; but those who did, lost her this morning of 9th October 2012. Her death was not due to natural causes. Her death was also not an accident. Her death was no less than a killing. It was a testimonial to our government’s efficiency. And those who were responsible are no other than the administrative and maintenance departments of Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center (JPMC). 


Her name was Dr. Sana Usman and she was my batch mate in Sindh Medical College. We had only just graduated in March and it has been 5 months since we have started our House Job in JPMC; one of the largest federal government hospital in Pakistan.


For more than one week she was on ventilatory and cardiac support in the Surgical ICU of JPMC. Her only mistake was that she used the elevators in the Nephrology department. Elevators that had gaping holes in its doors, where there should have been glass. From what I have come to know, it was in those gaps in which her dopatta got stuck and as the elevator moved, it strangulated her. In her effort to free herself her arm was twisted behind her back and inside the open window of the door. After considerable delay she was “rescued” from the elevator and brought to JPMC’s emergency department on a stretcher that was pushed on the road as fast as it could go.


She was declared dead in ER before she was resuscitated and her heart restarted. It took more than 15minutes of CPR, enough for her brain to be permanently damaged because of lack of oxygen. From there, she was shifted to the Surgical ICU. But all of this was to no avail. It only brought 9 days of false hope to Sana’s family and to us.


Her death has been a shocking eye opener for me at least. What kind of a working environment are we doctors in?  Where there is no guarantee of our lives, where I doubt whether we’ll all even come out alive of this mandatory one year training or not? Where there is occasional exchange of gun fire and bomb threats (read explosions) in its premises including the ER, where the looters on lose can anytime snatch you of your valuables or better yet sneak into sleeping female doctors on call room and steal from their bedside and where perverts strut around with their pants down assaulting doctors sexually…


We doctors have been working here for 5 months WITHOUT a single months’ salary being paid. That’s what the late Dr. Sana Usman said to her sister a day before the fatal accident that she was a financial burden on her parents even though she was a working woman.


I beg to you, to the President of Pakistan and to the Director of JPMC don’t let more of us die in vain. Let her death be a catalyst for change, a change for the better and for the good.

Misha Tanveer

A doctor currently working at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center and have a keen interest in writing and photography

  • Rafiq

    Dear Dr Misha – very sorry to learn about the death of Dr Sana. The poor girl must have had her dreams of serving the nation and of a better future but no one would have thought that such a lapse by the admin/mgmt of the institute would result in her demise. Her family will be devastated. I pray to Allah to grant her place in Jannah and give courage to her family to bear this loss. Rafiq

  • M.Saeed

    It is with deep sense of remorse and sorrow to learn the unfortunate and untimely death of Dr. Sana in accident of grave neglect. May her soul rest in eternal peace and may Almighty give her family and dear ones strength and fortitude to bear this irreplaceable loss. Amen.
    This is a grave example of our stone-hearted management diverting all resource and energies to the personal coffers by creating coffins for others. How long is their chain of greed and when will the divine accountability rise to fall on them?

  • khizir farooqi

    Sad so sad. Dr. Misha I assure you that your sacrifice would not go to waste basket. Some one must take necessary action and your living fellows be benefited. Allah may bless her with His kindness and mercy and patience to her aggrieved family members. khizir farooqi

  • Anjum

    has anybody been made accountable to what’s happened, or did anybody resign?

  • Asher

    I am very sorry and pray Allah for her soul. We are as a nation in such a bad shape that after such a huge loss we are thinking of some hospital management to take action and mend that elevator. when we realise that there is different in accident and criminal negligence. I am sorry to say that this is not accident. But we cannot do anything about these sharks who called themselves bureaucracy.