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The good doc revisits Leo's

The good doc revisits Leo's

Author: Nitasha Natu
Publication: The Times of India
Date: November 27, 2009

Breaking bread at Leopold's is not what he does often. But on Thursday, Dr Akash Akinwar, a lecturer at the dental college in St George's Hospital, had to visit the popular restaurant at Colaba. It was here that he had helped bundle over a dozen people injured from bullets into taxis and sent them to the hospital on November 26, 2008.

A periodontal surgeon, Akinwar was the only doctor present at the spot after the terror attack, and had the unenviable task of determining who was dead among the people lying on the ground.

"When I stepped into Leopold's for breakfast on Thursday, memories of the attack came back to me in a flood. The streets were crowded with onlookers and press photographers, but it was quiet inside. The window glass and a wall still bore bullet marks. I inquired with the staff about the condition of those hurt in the attack."

On the night of 26/11, Akinwar was having a meal at Olympia (near Leopold's) with a doctor friend when he first heard the sound of gunshots. "The management at Olympia downed their shutters. At that time, we thought it was a sole incident, probably of inter-gang rivalry," Akinwar told TOI. "After 15 minutes, my friend went out to fetch his bike. But I decided to go across to Leopold's."

Akinwar wasn't prepared for what he saw. "There were people lying everywhere, bleeding profusely. I found some were still alive, only unconscious. Others were writhing in pain. With the help of bystanders, I started hailing cabs and explained that I was a doctor from St George's Hospital. We then bundled the victims into the cabs," he said.

Akinwar's doctor friend was waiting on his bike. The duo then sped towards the hospital. "I had alerted my hostel warden to lock up and not send any of the students outside, when I first heard the gunshots at Leopold's. Now, I needed the same students to come out with whatever first-aid material they could bring. We worked non-stop through the night. At least 80 people were brought dead and the more serious ones were rushed to JJ Hospital," he said.

While he was going to bed around 8 am the next day, Akinwar received a phone call that there was requirement of blood in the hospital. "I contacted the dean, my colleagues and students. Each of us donated blood and by noon, we had collected 150 pints."

A year later, on Friday, Akinwar and his colleagues will donate blood again, at a special camp set up by the St George's Hospital.


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