LAHORE: It is a heart-rending image and definitely not one for the faint of heart; a woman lies unconscious on a hospital bed with what appears to be dirt covering her entire head. Only, it’s not dirt.

Upon closer inspection, it becomes clear what the heaving mass covering her skull really is – an infestation of maggots.

Videos and images of this nameless woman, who passed away in a hospital in Dera Ghazi Khan district on Wednesday, have shaken social media users to the core. But even more heartbreaking is the fact that no one came to claim her body, and she had to be buried in a nameless grave by the local administration.

Taunsa Tehsil Headquarters Hospital Medical Superintendent Tahir Hussain Nutkani told Dawn on Thursday that the woman, thought to be in her 40s, was brought to the hospital unconscious.

According to Rescue 1122, she was rescued four days ago from the flooded area of Mangrotha. Rescuers believe she had lain unattended for 10 to 15 days, which resulted in the maggot infestation that covered her body.

According to doctors, the woman was suffering from an old ulcer in the head area and even her eyes were infested with maggots, which were oozing out her body. Hospital staff claim that they tried their best to save her life, starting treatment and clearing the maggots from her body. A surgeon and an eye specialist were also called in for specialist advice.

But after hanging on to life in the hospital for around two days, she breathed her last on Wednesday afternoon, after which the hospital handed over her body to the morgue and reported the matter to the police.

Police and officials from the local Tehsil Municipal Admin­istration tried but failed to establish her identity. They were also unable to locate any of her surviving family – they may have perished in the flood or become separated, who knows. Then, as is the fate that befalls all such Jane and John Does, a funeral was held and she was laid to rest in an anonymous grave.

Published in Dawn, September 2nd, 2022

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