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A heart patient cries out for help

September 17, 2011

With only two days left, two-month old Ahmed’s parents are desperately looking for donors to raise Rs500,000 for his surgery.

LAHORE: As only two days have been left in the operation of a two-month old heart patient, his poor parents are desperately looking for donors to raise Rs500,000.

Though Muhammad Ahmad’s poor parents have found a doctor, the only cardiovascular surgeon in Punjab, they can’t bear the expenses of the specialised procedure.

Ahmad’s story is similar to the story of three-year-old heart patient Safwan, son of a cell phone technician, who got treatment in India a couple of months ago.

“The surgeon of a local private health facility has agreed to operate upon my son next week, but this procedure is far risky than the one in India. I have even no money to pay to the local surgeon,” says Ahmad’s father Muhammad Saleem. He said doctors warned him that any delay could prove fatal for Ahmad. Ahmad’s heart disease was diagnosed when he was just one month and 25 days old. A senior cardiac surgeon at the Mayo Hospital told this scribe that the baby should have been operated upon immediately after his birth. He said now Ahmad needed to be operated upon within a week.

“You have no more time to waste, as the colour of your baby is turning blue. Go back, arrange money and reach India for his operation,” doctors at Children Hospital, the only full-fledged healthcare institution for specialised treatment of children in Punjab, told Ahmad’s parents on their last visit to the health facility.

Saleem first took Ahmad to Mayo Hospital from where doctors referred him to Children Hospital for the opinion of a paediatric cardiologist and a paediatric cardiac surgeon. The doctors at Children Hospital told Ahmad’s parents that their baby had a ventricular septal defect, arterial septal defect and transposition of great arteries TGA (which means his right side blood vessels are on left side and left side blood vessels are on right side).

On doctors’ advice, Saleem contacted India’s leading cardiac surgeon Dr Rajesh Sharma. “Sir I’m a citizen of Pakistan (Lahore). My baby is suffering from TGA. As treatment is not available in Pakistan, we have to travel to India, but I cannot bear all expenses because I am just a shopkeeper. Sir, I do not want to lose my baby. For God’s sake, please give me concession in your operation fee. I can buy only tickets and medicines. Sir, please! I do not want to lose my baby who is just two months old. As time is short, please help me for God’s sake,” Saleem wrote to Dr Sharma through an e-mail.

Dr Rajesh replied: “TGA will require ASO surgery. It will cost IR220,000 for 12-day stay in general ward at Escorts Heart Institute in New Delhi. If you are interested, please send the names of all who will travel along with latest echo report”.

Saleem told Dr Sharma that he could only arrange Rs150,000 by selling some household items and repeated his request for a concession, but Dr Sharma said: “I am afraid it is not in my purview to reduce these charges, as the hospital does not have a discount policy. Travel and stay of relatives is not included.” This was Dr Sharma’s last reply to the poor family.

Keeping in view the financial position of Ahmad’s parents, Dr Sharma advised them to consult paediatric surgeon Dr Asim in Lahore, saying that he could also perform the similar surgery but with greater risks, as the Indian health institute was fully equipped with sophisticated infrastructure and trained staff.

Owing to his financial problems, Saleem agreed to contact Dr Asim, who will operate upon Ahmad at a private hospital on Monday.

For contact details of the family, please call:

Jamil Ashraf - Dawn Lahore

Phone: +92-42-35758120 Ext. 3095

Mobile: +92-321-4639007