Before the crack of dawn on Saturday, Dr Muffazal Lakdawala waited anxiously at Mumbai airport to greet a special visitor. The world’s heaviest woman, Eman Ahmed, who now weighs a little less than 500kg, was flown down from Egypt to undergo a bariatric surgery at Mumbai’s Saifee Hospital.
Eman reached the hospital at 6.15am.
“My priority is not to operate her, but to treat her. If she manages to sit on her own and return to Egpyt medically fit, then I will be the happiest person on earth.”
Dr Muffazal Lakdawala
However, Mumbai wasn’t the only destination considered to treat her. Abu Dhabi was another location, but final decision was taken only in last three days after Eman’s sister Shaimaa Ahmed insisted on treating her in Mumbai.
“While we were planning to get her to Mumbai, we had a Plan B in place. Abu Dhabi’s VPS Healthcare Group was the alternative. Choice was given to Eman’s family, and her sister chose Mumbai. Actual planning to get her here (Mumbai) happened in last three days,” said Lakdawala, who had visited Eman twice in last one month to monitor her health condition.
According to Eman’s family, Friday was the first time in 25 years that Eman stepped out of the house. Because of her weight, she was confined to her bed and hadn’t moved around or left the house. Currently, she suffers from severe lymphedema (swelling in arms and legs) and water retention as a result of her obesity and hypothyroidism.
Lakdawala said Eman already had suffered a stroke resulting in paralysis of her right arm and leg. She also has Type II diabetes, hypertension, severe obstructive and restrictive lung disease, gout.
“It was a medical marvel to get her here, given the medical problems she had. My team – Dr Aparna Bhasker, Dr Kamlesh Bohra and Dr Abizer Mankad – has been with her for the last 10 days along with CEO of Saifee hospital Huzaifa Shehabi. Her potassium levels and creatinine levels were very high. When we started her treatment 12 days ago, our aim was to stabilise her and bring these levels down,” said Lakdawala.
In last one month, Eman’s sister said she had lost around 20-25kg.
He said the biggest challenge for his team was to treat her in an alien land with Eman’s sister not allowing her to be taken to any nearby hospital, but Mumbai.
“We couldn’t take her to the hospital as her sister was against it. We had to treat her at home. We took a local physician’s help. We were working on bringing her fluid volumes down, so that she could travel in flight to Mumbai. We had to put her on blood thinner, so that she didn’t have pulmonary embolism. We gave her intravenous fluid and monitored potassium and creatinine levels every 2 to 3 days,” said Lakdawala.
Important medical equipment like portable ventilator, portable arterial blood gas monitor, defibrillator (a device that gives a high energy electric shock to the heart through the chest wall to someone who is in cardiac arrest) among others were taken from Mumbai.
“I told my team to think of worse possibility during her journey to Mumbai from Egypt and be prepared accordingly. We, therefore, had to put a central line. Our hospital CEO Shehabi was stationed at Alexandria with the team of doctors for 14 days and supervised every minute detail of arrangements for Eman’s journey to Mumbai,” said Lakdawala.
A special bed with wheels which could take her weight and help in easy movement was designed.
“It involved lot of engineering work as we had to ensure that she remains stable during the journey, otherwise it would be difficult to control any situation once in the air. We were told by airlines that the torque of flight needs to be three times of the weight of individual. We had to ensure that we maintained this and half tonnes of pressure in every angle to maintain the torque when the aircraft takes off,” said Lakdawala.
He said Eman’s treatment, which they had started 10 days ago, will be continued.
“We will now monitor the feed and other vital parameters which we couldn’t do in Egpyt. She will undergo battery of tests, including genetic marker tests. The diagnostic tests results are expected by Monday,” said Lakdawala.
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