Bengaluru girl, 9, survives after sari hammock strangles her

September 26, 2020

A nine-year-old girl who was strangled after the hammock she was playing with got entangled around her neck has survived, thanks to immediate medical help.

The incident happened on September 4 when Riya (name changed), from a low-income family, was playing with her younger sister at home, while her parents had gone out for work. Neighbours spotted her literally hanging from the ceiling of her house by the sari used as a hammock and rushed her to a nearby hospital.

Riya was brought to the emergency section of Columbia Asia hospital, Whitefield, and was unresponsive to treatment. She suffered multiple episodes of convulsions. Doctors noticed the ligation marks and initiated resuscitation measures. Her airway was secured by inserting a breathing tube into her windpipe and artificial ventilation was started.

Dr SP Senthil Kumar, consultant paediatric, neonatal and cardiac intensivist at the hospital, said the girl was in a near-arrest condition when she was brought. "Due to severe asphyxia (oxygen deprivation) she was comatose and had continuous seizures. The child was immediately resuscitated and artificial ventilation was established. CT scan showed swelling of her brain cells due to severe oxygen deprivation," said Dr Senthil.

The girl was on ventilator for 48 hours and was discharged on September 7.

Timely medical help was possible as Riya's house is located right behind the hospital. If she hadn't been brought in time, her condition would have turned fatal. "Had there been just 4-5 minutes of delay, the girl would have suffered from neurological damage, cardiac arrest and hypoxic brain damage. She is lucky to have survived," said Dr Senthil.

However, the doctors and neighbours could not ascertain how exactly the girl, who was playing with the sari hammock, ended up in a hanging position. Accidental twisting may have led to it, according to her neighbours.

The neighbours had noticed Riya sitting inside the sari hammock. Seeing her swinging rapidly, they had even warned her to stay off the hammock, hospital staff were told.

Dr Senthil advised parents to exercise caution while giving scarves, chains and necklaces to children.