A bed-ridden Egyptian woman weighing 500 kg will soon take her first flight to Mumbai for a long-drawn bariatric surgery. Her medical visa was cleared within a day by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who read a city doctor’s tweet and agreed to extend prompt help.
Swaraj is herself admitted at Delhi-based AIIMS and is slated to undergo a renal surgery.
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At 36, Eman Ahmed, based in Cairo, is perhaps the heaviest woman globally. She suffers from elephantiasis, a parasitic disease caused by filarial worm that swells up arms and legs of the infected person. According to her family, she has been unable to move around or leave the house for last 25 years. Due to her weight, she could not even visit the Indian Embassy for the visa formalities in Egypt, following which her visa application was denied.
On Monday, city-based bariatric surgeon Dr Muffazal A Lakdawala tweeted to Swaraj in a last-ditch attempt to draw attention of authorities. “Ma’am, Eman Ahmed (Egypt) 500kgs requested me 2 save her pls help me get her a medical visa as refused thru normal process [sic]”, he tweeted, to which Swaraj responded within a day, “Thanks for bringing this to my notice. We will definitely help her.”
On Tuesday, the Indian Embassy in Egypt granted Ahmed a medical visa to undergo bariatric surgery in Mumbai. A special chartered flight will be arranged to fly her to India, the funds for which have been pooled by Dr Lakdawala.
“Her family cannot afford the treatment cost. While I am operating her for free, the major cost involved is of transportation,” said Dr Lakdawala.
While bariatric procedure is often termed as cosmetic surgery by many, according to surgeons it can act as a life saving procedure for highly obese patients such as Ahmed. The disease is known to be a lifestyle-related problem but has also been hereditary in several cases.
On Tuesday, Dr Lakdawala tweeted to Swaraj, “Embassy in Cairo called, Visa granted. Thank you so much for this prompt response, impressed Appreciate the help.”
Ahmed’s family sent her medical records in October to the surgeon to understand if a surgery could help cut down extra fat. With a weight of 500 kgs, the woman has remained restricted to her house. She was born weighing 5 Kgs. Her weight, however, started shooting up when she was 11 years old.
Dr Lakdawala has been in constant touch with Ahmed’s sister and mother. “They have tried all option there and failed. In India, we have the facilities to help her,” he said.
Ahmed will undergo a series of evaluation tests by cardiologists, physicians, dietician and specialist who will ascertain all risk parameters in her treatment. She will then be put on a low-calorie diet to downsize.
In her current state, movement has become close to impossible. Special arrangements will be made to shift her in a chartered flight and bring her to India.
“For us, funds are the only cause to worry right now,” Dr Lakdawala says as he waits for Ahmed’s arrival next week.