Dr. Bhagwan Bang is a pediatrician in Opp, Alabama, who says that in his seven years of treating newborn babies, he has encountered several who suddenly turned blue and stopped breathing. But he knows exactly what to do and is able to save the babies’ lives. Except to save them, he actually has to be there.
That was the scary situation back on September 8 of last year when Dr. Bang was at home and received a call about a newborn at Andalusia Regional Hospital who was in that exact critical crisis situation. If the doctor failed to arrive as fast as possible, the infant would die, or could suffer serious, life-altering brain damage.
“Several minutes count,” Bang said. “It could mean a whole life to this child, or making them handicapped.”
Police in Opp had given him a specific route to take for just such a situation and told him to call 911 on his way to the hospital if he needed to get there in a hurry. That’s what he did. But when the cops caught up with him, instead of clearing the road ahead so he could get to the hospital and save the baby’s life, they pulled him over.
In fact, even as Dr. Bang spoke frantically on the phone to the hospital, trying to tell them the situation, the cops held him for 15 minutes, took his license and threatened to slap the cuffs on him.
“I thought they were trying to escort me. I just kept on proceeding,” Dr. Bang said. “I realized that one of the police cars went in front of me to stop me. And this time, the image is in my mind of the baby. They could have a ruptured lung and I may need to do something.”
Finally, they let him go, and luckily he was able to reach the hospital in time to save the baby’s life, just barely. But his ordeal wasn’t done yet.
Police hit him with a laundry list of traffic charges, including reckless driving and similar charges. Last week he was convicted — despite testimony from doctors and nurses supporting him — and now faces the possibility of losing is driver’s license for six months.
A driver’s license isn’t just a convenience for the doctor. With 18 years practicing medicine in rural south Alabama, Dr. Bhagwan Bang is the only pediatrician at not just one but two local hospitals. If he can’t get to work quickly, the next baby might not be as lucky.
Bang admits he has had run-ins with police for speeding before, all related to emergency medical calls. Police say they have tried to work with him in the past, but wouldn’t otherwise comment on the case.
Dr. Bhagwan Bang has appealed the guilty verdict and is waiting for his appeal to be heard in hopes that he’ll be allowed to keep his driver’s license.