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Eman Ahmed to go back, will be discharged in May

After differences crop up with family, doctor resigns from Eman’s medical team, says ‘hurt and disappointed’.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
Updated: April 26, 2017 11:00:08 am
eman ahmed, south mumbai, saifee hospital, ct scan, eman's brain cell, egypt, bariatric surgery, patient, us, shaimaa, cargo aircraft, india news, indian express news A photograph of Eman on Monday, released by Saifee Hospital.

AS doctor-patient relationship turns sour in a case that has attracted global interest, Saifee Hospital in South Mumbai has resolved to discharge Egyptian patient Eman Ahmed this coming fortnight. A CT scan Tuesday showed 40 per cent of Eman’s brain cells were dead due to a stroke a few years back. This has led to frequent seizures suffered by the 36-year-old patient.

Until recently, Eman Ahmed was estimated to be the world’s heaviest woman, at 500 kg, when she was flown into Mumbai in a special aircraft for bariatric surgery and obesity treatment.

Saifee Hospital is now in consultation with the Consul General of Egypt to arrange the logistics for Eman’s return. A doctor said she was fit to travel in a passenger aircraft, though she might require at least two or three seats.

The hospital had raised over Rs 80 lakh through a crowd funding campaign, which would be utlised for her travel arrangements, sources said. “She does not need a cargo carrier anymore. She is fit for discharge and travel,” said a doctor.

Following a deadlock between the family and the treating doctors’ team for over four weeks, Eman’s sister Shaimaa Selim said she had agreed to take her back to Alexandria. “It is now God’s will. My mother and I will look after her,” she said.

Eman is on several drugs, including those to control seizures, and blood thinners which will support air travel.

Until now, doctors were waiting to reduce Eman’s weight to 204 kg, the maximum weight an ICT 265 slice Philips CT scan machine could take. Now weighing 171 kg, Eman went under the narrow machine Tuesday. A scan showed she suffers from a cerebral infarction in the left brain hemisphere that has affected her speech, function of swallowing, and mobility of her right hand and right leg, as well as causing paralysis on the right side. This is due to a stroke she suffered three years ago. “Brain damage is reversible, but needs neurological rehabilitation therapy. Her last seizure was three weeks ago, but it is not life threatening with medication,” said neurologist Dr Arun Shah.

She also requires speech therapy, exercises to swallow and physiotherapy to improve movements.

“But in the last three weeks, Eman and her sister have slowed down the progress by protesting against everything doctors did. Until a month ago, we were all heroes for them,” said Dr Hemal Shah, treating nephrologist.
Eman’s case attracted global attention when she was lifted in a crane from her Alexandria home and carried in a cargo aircraft to Mumbai. What began as praise for the team of 16 doctors by the family and also praise for Shaimaa for her untiring efforts towards Eman’s treatment have now turned into an ugly spat as the hospital fixed a discharge date and Shaimaa refused to take her sister back to Egypt.

“After I protested, they shifted her out of the special room designed for her to a seventh floor room. My sister coughs when she attempts to eat, she cannot swallow food and suffers frequent seizures. Sometimes she needs an oxygen mask to breath,” said Shaimaa (31), adding that with poor finances it would become difficult to look after Eman in Egypt. She also worries about taking a flight back at this juncture. “What if my sister dies due to complications in flight?”

Saifee Hospital’s chief operating officer Huzaifa Shehabi said the hospital had expertise in bariatrics and obesity for which they treated Eman. In the last two months, hypothyroidism, heart functions, renal failure, and respiratory disease — all related with obesity — had also been treated. “We never promised complete recovery. Her feet are deformed and she cannot walk again,” said Shehabi.

In April, Shaimaa claimed, she consulted an Egyptian neurologist for Eman. “The hospital threatened to discharge her within six hours if I brought a doctor from outside,” she alleged. Shaimaa claimed that even the obesity treatment had not been fully addressed. “The weight loss is due to medicines that are making her pass urine and lose excess fluids,” she alleged.

Bariatric surgeon Dr Muffazal Lakdawala operated upon Eman on March 7 to reduce her stomach by two-third size.

“This is already a miraculous weight loss. We have documentation to prove,” he said, adding that he expected Eman to get enrolled in a global drug trial for LEPR gene mutation in the USA. A second bariatric surgery has been shelved for now.

“She was a high risk patient when she was flown to India. Now she has improved by 75 per cent,” said Dr Aparna Bhasker, section head of the bariatric department. On Tuesday, Bhasker resigned from Eman’s medical team claiming she was “hurt and disappointed” by Shaimaa’s decision to speak out against the doctors.

“This is the worst form of assault on a doctor. I stayed with Eman in Egypt for several days leaving my child behind. Her sister has suddenly become ungrateful for all the time and energy doctors put in this case,” she said.

According to hospital officials, an expenditure of over Rs 2 crore has been incurred on Eman’s treatment, of which Rs 1 crore was spent on the logistics of bringing her to Mumbai. Two nurses and two helpers are always by her side.

Shaimaa, however, said if the hospital did not have expertise to tackle neurological condition they should not have assured to treat Eman. She said this incident would make other patients rethink before travelling for medical treatment.

Shehabi, on the other hand, claimed that cultural and language barriers created misunderstandings. The hospital has asked Eman to look for consulting doctors in Egypt to continue neurological treatment. “We will offer support if needed,” Shehabi added.

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