Updated: September 26, 2017 3:32:19 am
Once considered the world’s heaviest woman at 500 kg, Eman Ahmed, 37, died at the Burjeel Hospital in Abu Dhabi following multi-organ failure on Monday, seven months after the Egyptian national left her home to seek treatment for obesity. She spent nearly three months in a Mumbai hospital before being transferred to the Abu Dhabi hospital in May this year.
Doctors treating her attributed her “sudden death” to a urinary tract infection and subsequent septic shock. She was diagnosed with the infection over six days ago. It led to septic shock that worsened her condition within 24 hours on Sunday.
Eman attracted global attention after she was airlifted from Alexandria to Mumbai in February for obesity treatment. She was then estimated to weigh 500 kg. On May 4, she was transferred to VPS Healthcare’s Burjeel Hospital for further treatment.
“When I last met her on Saturday, she was joking and smiling. Her death has come as a shock to us. She had a slight fever on Saturday. Blood tests showed there was a bacterial infection. We started treatment for it, but the bacteria was more aggressive,” said Dr Nehad Halawa, anaesthesia specialist and head of the medical team that was treating Eman at Burjeel Hospital.
Eman’s death came a fortnight after she celebrated her birthday on September 11. “She passed away on Monday morning, at 4.35 am, due to complications from the underlying co-morbid conditions including heart disease and kidney dysfunction,” said a statement issued by the hospital.
Eman was scheduled to undergo a series of surgeries in October, including liposuction, abdominoplasty and plastic surgeries to tighten flaps of loose skin around her limbs and stomach.
She was also undergoing physiotherapy for her hands and legs, to improve mobility, for the past several weeks along with speech therapy. “She had started eating without support, her hand movements were improving. But there still seemed to be mobility issues in her legs due to a past stroke,” Halawa said.
In a video recorded message, her younger sister Shaimaa Selim said, “There were special machines used here, very good doctors were there for her… But we could not do anything. Just pray for her.”
Eman was under the supervision of 20 specialist doctors, including a nutritionist, physiotherapist, cardiologist, neurologist, bariatric surgeons, anaesthesists, nephrologist and intensive care specialists. She was considered a high-risk patient with hypertension, paralysis, stroke, hypothyroid, respiratory distress, sleep apnea and renal malfunction.
The 37-year-old was bedridden for three years. Her sister had started an online campaign to seek medical treatment for her when she came in touch with Dr Muffadal Lakdawala, a bariatric surgeon working in Saifee Hospital in Mumbai. In February, Eman was airlifted and brought to Saifee Hospital. She underwent a sleeve gastrectomy bariatric procedure to cut her stomach size by two-thirds.
She remained in the hospital for three months. Saifee Hospital claimed that her weight came down to 170 kg during this period. But, following a dispute between her sister and hospital authorities, Eman was shifted to Burjeel Hospital on May 4.
“She was always a high risk patient. There was never a reference case to fall back on, her treatment had to be tailor made. Even in Mumbai, we had to constantly monitor her. But the co-morbities were very high,” said Dr Aparna Bhasker, a bariatric surgeon who was part of the medical team at Saifee Hospital.
Over the last four months, Eman had shown progress, both medically and emotionally, in Abu Dhabi. “She can speak Arabic with nurses who understand and communicate. She is at ease here. She smiles and sings,” Shaimaa had told The Indian Express earlier.
According to Dr Shamsheer Vayalil, managing director at VPS Healthcare, it took months for doctors to bring Eman out of depression. They had planned to keep her in hospital for at least a year to conduct knee, hip and joint surgeries.
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