Sour relations don’t deter seriously ailing Pakistanis to find succour here

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  • Karachi resident gets living donor liver transplant at Fortis Hospital Mohali, 7th Pak national to do so in last 18 months

NewZNew (Mohali) : There may be a chill in India-Pakistan relations, and cricketing and trade ties between the two nations may be at a low ebb, but that has not deterred seriously ailing people from the other side of the border, deprived of good health care facilities back home, from crossing over and benefitting from world-class critical care that Indian hospitals have to offer at much less cost.

Jamaluddin, a 48-year old vegetable merchant from Karachi in Sindh province of Pakistan, is the latest beneficiary. Having successfully undergone a living donor liver transplant recently at Fortis Hospital Mohali, he thanks his stars for opting to get his surgery done here. “I am already hale and hearty and can’t wait to share my joy with my family.” He expresses his gratitude to the doctors and staff of the hospital for looking after him so well. “All through my 6 weeks stay here not once did I feel that I am away from home,” he says.

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His donor brother-in-law (wife’s brother) Peer Muhammad (32), a cloth merchant from the frontier Balochistan province, adds: “Never before had we experienced such warmth in any hospital in Pakistan. The doctors are very ‘magroor’ (callous and indifferent) there. Here, apart from Liver Transplant Surgeon Dr Ashish Singhal, who took pains to explain every detail including potential complications and their remedy, Ms Kiran and Sister Sapna guided us and took care that all our tests and other investigations were conducted smoothly without any delay. They even made arrangements for our hassle free ‘namaaz’ offering and also regular visits to the nearby mosque. Transplant Coordinator Mr Satya Narayan did meticulous work with our documentation.”

Jamaluddin’s saviours, liver transplant surgeons Dr Vivek Vij & Dr Ashish Singhal, have performed living donor liver transplant on seven Pakistani nationals since April last year at Fortis Hospital Mohali. Dr Singhal says: “Jamaluddin presented in Fortis Hospital Mohali with multiple complications of chronic liver disease. He was suffering from end stage liver disease due to chronic Hepatitis C virus infection. He had excessive fluid accumulation in the abdomen, jaundice, kidney dysfunction, recurrent mental confusion, and gastrointestinal bleed. On investigation, he was also diagnosed with liver cancer.”

Dr Ashish informs that they had to remove 3 to 4 litres of fluid from Jamaluddin’s abdomen every alternate day. The surgery and postoperative course was uneventful. The donor was discharged on the 7th day and the transplant recipient on the 13th day. “But Jamaluddin will have to be on immune suppression medication for life. Since he had liver cancer, we will keep him under surveillance with imaging and blood testing for recurrence. Since Hepatitis C also does not go away with liver transplant, we are planning to start his treatment for Hepatitis C when he comes back for his follow-up three months from now,” Dr Singhal adds.

For Jamaluddin, who had been suffering untold misery for the last 6 years, getting treatment in Pakistan was not so easy. He had been running from one doctor to another and from one hospital to the other. When finally it was clear that he had to undergo a liver transplant, it was difficult to take a call. First, liver transplantation had not matured so much in Pakistan to get the confidence to get it done in a hospital there. And, second, the surgery was unaffordable. “We were told that it would cost us Rs 85 lakh Pakistan rupees in a reputed private hospital in Pakistan,” says Peer Muhammad, adding that: “We had heard about Fortis Hospital Mohali from a Balochistan resident who had undergone a successful liver transplant surgery here at much lower cost. That, and research on the Internet, convinced us, and we are happy that we made the right decision.”

About the courage it took to offer a living donation of part of his liver, Peer Muhammad says, “It gives me great satisfaction at the thought that I have contributed in giving a new lease of life to my brother-in-law, and am convinced that we must not only live for ourselves, but for others too.”