Odisha Nurse Quits Job To Perform Last Rites Of Unclaimed Bodies & COVID Patients

Bhubaneswar: Performing the last rites of dead persons is nothing new for Madhusumita Prusty. She has been recovering and cremating abandoned bodies in the Odisha capital for the last three years.

The pandemic brought on a new challenge since it meant a risk to one’s own life but the gritty nurse took it heads on. She now cremates the abandoned dead bodies of COVID patients or those whose relatives are too scared to go near the body.

Her husband Pradeep Kumar Prusty has been doing this service since 2009 under the umbrella of his NGO ‘Pradeep Seva Trust.’

The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) recently signed an agreement with the trust to start a crematorium at Bharatpur Mouza, on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar for both COVID and non-COVID bodies.

“We cremate the bodies of COVID patients from nearby hospitals of Bharatpur area here,” said Madhusumita.

“We have been provided PPE kit and other medical equipment for our safety. We carry the bodies of COVID patients from the hospitals and bring them here to the crematorium. There are cases in which COVID patients die at home and their family members hesitate to touch the body. That is when they call us.”

“The situation is so bad that sometimes, children refuse to carry out the last rites even with the PPE on,” she added.

“Before the pandemic, we used to perform last rites of unclaimed bodies found along the railway tracks and roads in Bhubaneswar and on the city outskirts,” said Pradeep.

“Three years back, there was no one to help me in this work. People used to join and leave after working for a few days. It became very difficult for me because there should at least be two persons to carry a body. As a result, I couldn’t do anything for three months and felt very bad about it. My wife Madhu couldn’t see me in this condition and offered to help me,” he added.

Madhusumita was working as a nurse in a hospital in Kolkata at that time. She left her job to help her husband.

She is hands-on now, as apart from everything else, she drives the ambulance herself.

“As a nurse, I have seen the pain of people when a loved one dies. The current situation is even more heart-rending. But I gather all my courage and willpower to do my job. I feel that’s the least I can do for a person who has left this world with none of his loved ones beside him,” said 37-year-old Madhusumita.

The couple runs a shop for a living. But whenever there is a call, Madhusumita doesn’t lose time in picking up her keys, donning her PPE, and driving off in her ambulance.

“We will do this social work till our last breath. Our son and daughter also cooperate with us in this work,” said Pradeep.


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