COVID-positive toddler dies after waiting for an available intensive care bed for 8 hours in Turkey's southeast

A toddler diagnosed with COVID-19 has died after waiting to be admitted to a hospital's intensive care unit for eight hours in Turkey's Batman province. The toddler was taken to a private hospital when authorities said that there wasn't any space in the intensive care units of state hospitals and died there three days after being intubated.

Ferhat Yaşar / DUVAR

An 18-months-old toddler diagnosed with COVID-19 has died after waiting for eight hours to be admitted to a hospital's intensive care unit in the southeastern province of Batman.

Sakine Akdağ, who suffered from epilepsy, was initially taken to Batman Children's Hospital on Nov. 22 upon falling ill. 

Safiye Akdağ, the child's aunt, told Duvar that hospital authorities sent the child home after giving her antifebrile medication.

The child fell ill the next day and her family took her to another hospital, Akdağ said, adding that she was once again sent home with medication and was asked to be checked three days later. 

On Nov. 24, Sakine Akdağ started having difficulty breathing and stopped eating, prompting her mother to take her daughter to a hospital once again, only to be met with a similar response. 

The child's condition further worsened the next day and her mother took her to a hospital's emergency room yet again on Nov. 25 and begged for the child to be admitted. Safiye Akdağ said that the toddler was finally taken into intensive care after a lung scan showed the severity of her situation. 

"Our child was admitted to intensive care around 5 p.m., but the doctor said, 'The child may need to be intubated, we need to transfer her to another hospital.' We started to search for an available intensive care bed in a hospital," Akdağ said, adding that the child also underwent a COVID-19 test in the meanwhile and tested positive.

"We also talked to private hospitals. There was an available bed in Zilan Hospital's intensive care, but they didn't admit Sakine because she was COVID-19 positive. Despite our efforts, we couldn't find any available beds in any hospital. 

At around midnight on Nov. 25 the child's condition worsened with her heart rate severely dropping, prompting the doctor to take her into surgery. 

"They asked her mother to leave the room and the doctor used a device, which we don't know whether it was an intubation one, to open access to her lungs," Akdağ said. 

Following eight hours of waiting, the toddler was finally transferred to the intensive care unit of a private hospital and died on Nov. 28 after being intubated for three days. 

Commenting on the issue, Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Feleknas Uca criticized Health Minister Fahrettin Koca for not being able to manage the pandemic. 

"You have said that the capacity of the hospitals is sufficient since the beginning of the pandemic, you didn't act transparent and couldn't manage the situation," Uca said on Twitter. 

"How many more lives should be lost in order for these shortcomings to be gotten rid of?" Uca asked.

The Batman Provincial Health Directorate released a statement on the issue, saying that the child was already in intensive care in the said eight hours and there's no negligence.