A healer shunned

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The family wanted to bury him in Nongpoh, Sailo’s native town, but residents and community leaders refused, fearing infection from the dead body.

Picture for representation

Dr John L. Sailo Ryntathiang

On April 13, Dr John L. Sailo Ryntathiang, founder of Shillong’s Bethany Hospital, became the first in Meghalaya to test positive for COVID-19. Though he was known for his philanthropic work and was arguably the most revered physician in the state, the social ostracisation of the Ryntathiang family began right after his diagnosis. Two days later, when the 69-year-old died, his body lay in his own hospital for 36 hours. The family wanted to bury him in Nongpoh, Sailo’s native town, but residents and community leaders refused, fearing infection from the dead body. Ironically, Sailo had set up the Bethany Hospital Outreach in Nongpoh to provide affordable healthcare to the poor.

The state administration then planned to bury the body in Shillong, but there, too, the family faced hostility from locals. Eventually, the government reached out to the churches and finally the Riatsamthiah Presbyterian Church cemetery at Lawmali allowed his body to be laid to rest there on April 16.

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About the author: Sohom Das
Founder of Tuccho.

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