PML-N raises alarm as platelets transfused into ex-PM

Updated October 23, 2019

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leaders Ahsan Iqbal and Marriyum Aurangzeb address a press conference at National Press Club on Tuesday.—White Star
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leaders Ahsan Iqbal and Marriyum Aurangzeb address a press conference at National Press Club on Tuesday.—White Star

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: Former president Asif Ali Zardari was shifted from Rawalpindi’s Adiala jail to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) hospital on a day when doctors at the Lahore Services Hospital termed the condition of former premier Nawaz Sharif ‘serious’ despite the transfusion of three mega units of platelets within hours after his admission.

According to the medical tests carried out on Tuesday, the platelet count of Nawaz Sharif “dropped from 16,000 to a critical level of 2,000” when he was brought to hospital late on Monday night, prompting the medical board members to go for “immediate transfusion of the platelets to save his life”, said one of the board members.

While both leaders of the major opposition parties had been complaining against the authorities for not providing necessary healthcare in Kot Lakhpat and Adiala jails for the past several months, they were rushed to hospitals one after the other when the deteriorating health condition of Nawaz Sharif was confirmed by medical examination findings of the government.

In Islamabad, PIMS hospital media coordinator Dr Waseem Khawaja told the media that the patient (Mr Zardari) was admitted to the cardiology ward. “A number of tests, including ECG and blood tests, were conducted and the patient is out of danger. But some more tests will be held, so Mr Zardari can be retained in the hospital for a few days,” he said.

“Neurologist Prof Amir, medical specialist Dr Shajee and cardiologist Prof Naeem had checked Mr Zardari” for weakness, anxiety and low backache, he added.

Poorly Zardari admitted to PIMS cardiology ward

Meanwhile, a six-member board of doctors, headed by Lahore Services Hospital Principal Prof Dr Ayaz Mahmood, examined the PML-N supremo and transfused “three mega units of platelets” into the patient. A board member said the services of senior haematologist of Shaikh Zayed Hospital Prof Dr Mona Aziz were also engaged to find out reasons for the drop in platelets count of Mr Sharif. “The medical board carried out his multiple tests but could not succeed in diagnosing the disease that led to drop in his platelets count,” he said, adding that by Tuesday evening his platelets count increased to 18,000.

According to doctors, normal range of platelets count is between 150,000 and 400,000. “We are carrying out more tests to find the exact reason behind drop in his platelets,” he said.

The situation eventually made the Punjab health department to pass on the instructions to include the personal physician of Nawaz Sharif, Dr Adnan Khan, in the medical board.

The National Accountability Bureau had shifted the ex-premier to the Services Hospital late Monday night after Dr Adnan had raised an alarm about his critical condition in NAB’s custody. According to officials, when he was brought to the Services Hospital there was no cardiac unit available, compelling the relevant authorities to call heart specialists from the Punjab Institute of Cardiology and Jinnah Hospital.

On Tuesday when his condition showed slight improvement with platelet count rising to 18,000, much below the normal level, his brother and president of the main opposition party Shahbaz Sharif met him at the hospital. While Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid also visited the Services Hospital, she preferred to remain engaged with the hospital administration during her visit instead of seeing the former premier. “However, Punjab Health Secretary Momin Agha met Mr Sharif and inquired after his health on the instruction from the top,” a source said.

Govt asked to shun apathy; probe sought

In a tweet, Mr Shahbaz said: “I visited my brother Nawaz Sharif in hospital earlier today. I am gravely concerned & worried on his fast deteriorating health condition. The government must shun its apathy & attend to his serious health issues. I appeal to the nation to pray for Mian sahib.”

During his interaction with reporters outside the hospital, the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly demanded an investigation into the delay in shifting Nawaz Sharif to hospital following drop in his platelets to the critical level.

“We are thankful to Allah that blood had not come out of his nose or mouth in this condition,” he said, adding that it was “criminal negligence” on part of the authorities.

Hussain Nawaz alleged that reduction in platelets of his father might be a result of some kind of “poisoning”. Tweeting from London, he said: “Thrombocytopenia as manifestation of poisoning. If anything happens to Nawaz Sharif…you know who are responsible for this.”

Former interior minister and PML-N general secretary Ahsan Iqbal alleged that NAB officials turned a blind eye to Nawaz’s health despite repeated requests of Dr Adnan and “threw his medical reports into bin”. He said the ruling PTI had meted out strange attitude with their political opponents.

Addressing a press conference at National Press Club, Mr Iqbal said the party supremo was rushed to hospital only after the media highlighted the deteriorating condition of Nawaz Sharif who was in NAB’s custody in yet another case.

He expressed the hope that Maryam Nawaz, who was also in NAB custody, would be allowed to meet her father at the hospital.

He demanded that former premier Shahid Khaqan Abasi also be shifted to hospital as his health condition was also not good.

PML-N Information Secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb said PTI’s ‘rented’ spokespersons had started politics on the health condition of Nawaz Sharif. She demanded that Dr Adnan be allowed to examine the reports of Maryam Nawaz also, as her pathological reports had not been shared with the family yet.

Terming the arrest of Mohammad Safdar, son-in-law of the ex-PM, “kidnapping”, she said he had not been produced before a magistrate.

In reply to a question about protest march of the opposition parties against the government, he said Imran Khan’s “test-tube government” could not handle the situation. “As per directive of PML-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif, we would observe Black day on Oct 27 and participate on Oct 31 in Azadi March.”

“It is written on the wall that 2020 will be election year and the government should talk to opposition on the issue of how to conduct fair, free and transparent elections next year,” he added.

Meanwhile, the NAB wrote to the Punjab home department about enhancing security at the Services Hospital as a good number of PML-N workers gathered outside the hospital and chanted slogans against Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Ikram Junaidi, Aamir Yasin from Islamabad; and Zulqernain Tahir and Asif Chaudhry from Lahore contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, October 23rd, 2019