Chennai: A close relative of V K Sasikala, aide of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, has deposed before a panel probing the leader’s death that she had told him that there was no pleasure to her other than having the food of her choice.
In his deposition, Dr K S Sivakumar said “Amma” (Jayalalithaa) was quite sensitive about matters related to food. “I am aware about doctors telling her about diet and exercise…Amma had said she had no pleasure other than having the food of her choice,” he told the Justice A Arumughaswamy Commission of Inquiry.
Sivakumar is a plastic surgeon and he coordinated Jayalalithaa’s medical treatment and deposed for re-examination before the panel.
Justice Arumughaswamy, citing how the late Jayalalithaa regarded Sivakumar as a member of her family asked him: “If Jayalalithaa had come out of unconscious state and had uttered you too Brutus…why you did not opt for surgery (for Left ventricle failure by consulting other doctors) what would you have said?” To this, Sivakumar said all that was necessary was done by him.
The reference to “surgery” here includes options of angiogram to correct the underlying medical conditions related to the late leader’s heart. Asked if he was satisfied about the treatment for Jayalalithaa, Sivakumar replied with a question: “Could we have done angiogram.”
During cross-examination by counsel for Sasikala, Sivakumar said, “I said this answer as I was asked…I am not a cardiologist.” The angiogram was not done as experts like Dr Cherian and Dr Brammanandam had opined against it.
“I am fully satisfied about coordinating the treatment for Amma…my aunt (Sasikala) and I were fully supportive of Amma’s treatment.” Foreign treatment for Jayalalithaa was discussed only as an “option” and no doctor said it was a “condition,” he said concurring with counsel for Sasikala, N Raja Senthoor Pandian.
Sivakumar said “correct,” when Pandian asked if he felt “political pressure” was a reason for setting up the Commission of Inquiry by the Tamilnadu government. When Justice Arumughaswamy told Sivakumar that Sasikala’s late husband M Natarajan was admitted “only to Global Hospitals,” for a transplant, the plastic surgeon replied that the decision to admit him at that hospital was that of Natarajan’s immediate family – his brothers – and he was not party to that decision.
Last year, Natarajan had undergone a liver and kidney transplant at Gleneagles Global Hospitals and he did in March this year. Sivakumar also said Natarajan had previously taken treatment at Apollo Hospital.
On the depositions of Dr Madan Kumar and Dr Sundar of Apollo that CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and sternotomy could be carried out side by side, and on the latter’s deposition that CPR was stopped for 15 minutes when sternotomy was done for the late leader, Sivakumar did not offer any view.
To a question on foreign medical treatment for Jayalalithaa, Sivakumar said Dr Richard Beale after seeing Jayalalithaa had said she could be shifted to a foreign destination for treatment. He also offered to arrange air ambulance and accompany her.
However, when Beale visited for the second time, he felt there was improvement and said “it was not necessary for now.” Asked if the option of foreign treatment was discussed with Ministers by him (or Sasikala according to his knowledge), Sivakumar said it was not.
On a question posed by the Commission that revolved around Jayalalithaa’s last meal, Sivakumar said on 4 December 2016 around 11 am she had sought cornflakes. He was, however, not sure if she consumed it. Also, he said he did not know what kind of food she had for lunch.
To the nurses’ deposition that they could not spell out if Jayalalithaa had lunch or not, Sivakumar replied that he did not know about it. When Arumughaswamy asked about the problems in Jayalalithaa’s lung and heart and which condition led to the other, he said since he was not a specialist in that field he could not answer it.
He said he was a plastic surgeon and he had treated Jayalalithaa for cellulitis since it fell under his domain. Arumughaswamy, showing photostat copies of media reports, said Apollo Hospitals’ Dr K Mani had argued with then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi against sending former Chief Minister M G Ramachandran for foreign treatment.
At that point in time, even late Indira Gandhi had said that if viewed from the patient’s standpoint, foreign treatment option would be right. To this, Sivakumar said he was not aware of it.
Sivakumar, during cross-examination by counsel for Apollo, concurred with them over accreditations of their hospital like the JCI (Joint Commission International) and the doctors working there being renowned.
Doctors at Apollo had done the right treatment and ‘Amma‘ was satisfied about the treatment, he said. A journalist was allowed for the first time to witness and report the proceedings of the panel and he was from PTI.