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Oman town shocked by hoax call nurse’s death

UK nurse who fell victim to a 'royal' prank call had lived and worked in Oman

Jacintha Saldanha
Image Credit: AFP/AP
Police officers stand outside the King Edward VII hospital in central London on December 7, 2012 after nurse Jacintha Saldanha (left) was found dead at a property close by.
Gulf News

Muscat: The death of a King Edward VII Hospital nurse has sent shockwaves in Oman’s industrial port town of Sohar, where Jacintha Saldanha had lived with her family for more than four years.

“I was shocked and haven’t had peace of mind since the time I heard the sad news about Jacintha’s death,” Dr Ivona Gomes, who knew her personally, told Gulf News over the phone from Sohar.

Dr Gomes, a gynaecologist at Sohar Hospital, cannot believe that Jacintha committed suicide. “She was too level-headed a person to do something like that,” she said.

“Otherwise,” she added, “the pressure must be too much to handle.”

Dr Gomes paid glowing tributes to her friend and her family. “The couple was very helpful and socially very active,” she said, adding that one could expect unconditional help from Jacintha. “You could be sure that in need you could fall back on her.”

She said that a mass in her memory was planned at the Sohar Church.

Jacintha had worked with Sohar Hospital’s Medical Department for more than four years before moving to the UK. “They primarily moved to UK for their children’s education,” said Wilson Barboza, a colleague of Jacintha’s husband, Benedict Barboza, and a close family friend.

Benedict, popularly called Benny, had worked with Khimji Ramdas for more than 15 years at their Sohar Branch. “Both Benny and Jacintha were soft-spoken people and ever helpful,” Barboza said, adding that Jacintha was not only helpful at the hospital but she would never say no for help outside work.

He also cannot believe that a kind-hearted person like Jacintha, who nursed patients to life, could take her own life. “It is difficult to digest,” he said with sadness about the person he thinks was very calm and quite.

Barboza’s another colleague at Khimji Ramdas also paid tribute to Jacintha. “The family was very helpful and kind and Jacintha was a very soft-spoken person,” Dinesh Sampat said, adding that the news was a big shock to everyone who knew the family in Sohar.

Jacintha apparently killed herself after being tricked by a hoax caller, who pretended to be the Queen. The 46-year-old mother of two, was found dead on Friday morning in nurses’ accommodation at the London hospital.

Three days before her death, Jacintha was staffing the hospital switchboard when she took a call from two Australian radio presenters – Mel Greig and Michael Christian – impersonating the Queen and Prince Charles. They were transferred to the Duchess’s ward and broadcast confidential information given to them by a second nurse.