Umar Mushtaq, the son of Mushtaq Muhammad, a plant operator from Swabi, Khyber Pakhtoon Khwa (KPK), was diagnosed with congenital heart disorder when he was four months old. From then on, there were multiple visits to doctors, who initially contained the problem through medication.
However, at age six, Umar had to be operated upon, by a cardiologist in Peshawar, says his mother, Shaista Mushtaq. The social security of the factory that Mushtaq worked at took care of the expenses. Unfortunately the operation could not set the disorder right completely. The parents brought Umar to Children Hospital in Lahore where doctors told them that the operation Umar now required was too complicated and advised them to take him to India. There was no way they could bear the expenses involved.
Fortunately, Mushtaq heard about Rotary Authority in Pakistan's Gift of Life (GOL) programme that had enabled many children to enjoy a new lease of life after receiving gratis heart surgeries at home and abroad. In December, 2010 Mushtaq approached Jamil Qamar, President of Rotary Club of Peshawar Khyber who forwarded the case to District Governor (DG) Shehzad Ahmed heading the Rotary District (RD) 3272 (Pakistan and Afghanistan).
DG Shehzad contacted his counterparts in India. His friend DG Ashok Agarwal (RD-3240 West Bengal) responded, offering free-of-cost heart surgery under his District's Heart to Heart (H2H) Programme. The co-ordinators of the H2H and GOL programmes, Co-chairman Gaurang Desai and myself respectively, got working to organise the hospital admission, passport and visa logistics.
We sent medical reports to coordinator H2H programme who forwarded them to Dr. Satyajit Bose, Chairman and Senior Consultant Cardio Thoracic Surgeon of The Mission Hospital, Durgapur, West Bengal. Dr. Bose agreed to undertake the challenge of operating upon Umar, whose case was complicated and risky. His invitation letter reached us in the last week of December, 2010, after which the family had to first obtain their passports and then apply for the visa.
The passport formalities were completed by first week of March, 2011 and the family applied for Indian visas which they received the same day. The Council General, Visa Section, Indian High Commission, Islamabad is to be lauded for his courtesy in always completing the formalities of the interviews and issuing visas to Pakistani heart patients and their families in one day.
I got the family's seats booked on the luxury bus that plies between Lahore and New Delhi. The H2H representative in New Delhi K. G. Biju got the train seats booked in advance for their onward journey to Durgapur.
DG Shehzad and I saw Umar and his parents off for New Delhi on the morning of March 14. They reached there that evening. K. G. Biju received them at the bus terminal and settled them in a nearby guest-house at his own expense and organised the police reporting formality.
The next day in the night the family boarded Kolkata-bound Sealdah Rajdhani Express, India's best and fastest train. They got off en-route at Durgapur where the hospital staff received them and drove them to the hospital.
On March 22, DG Agarwal informed us that Umar had been successfully operated upon after a very complicated procedure, and asked all involved to pray for post-operation recovery.
Umar could not be taken off the ventilators for longer than usual due to his critical condition. The day-and-night efforts of the doctors finally enabled them to remove the ventilators on April 7.
Unfortunately, a few days later, Umar's lungs filled with water and he had to undergo another minor operation. But his ordeal was not yet over.
When he was ready to be discharged fully healthy, he developed mumps. His hospital stay was finally over when he was discharged in May, 2011. Incidentally Umar was the first child to be operated upon in West Bengal under the umbrella of RD-3240 Rotary H2H programme and was also the first child of RD-3272 GOL programme.
Umar and his parents have since returned to Pakistan with beaming faces, and a treasure of memories: the support and affectionate care of the hospital staff and Indian Rotarians. These handful of Rotarians from the Muslim, Hindu and Christian communities did not know each other prior to Umar's operation, but came close together as they worked together to keep a soul alive, and provide support to his parents.
Rotarians believe that human beings are one and the same and to do service, there are no boundaries and barriers. Long live Indo-Pak Rotary.
We look forward to seeing many more such ventures, that may contribute towards developing understanding, goodwill and peace and mitigating the frosty relations created by hard-liners on both sides.
We are all profusely gratified to DG Ashok Agarwal's arranging for Umar's gratis heart surgery; to the Counsel General of the Indian High Commission, Islamabad for facilitating visas quickly; to past Rotary President Gaurang Desai's administrative skills and incisive monitoring, timely information and logistic support; to Dr. Satyajit Bose for undertaking a risky and complicated open heart surgery and providing the destitute family with air travel from Kolkata to New Delhi, enabling them to bypass the rigours of another train journey; to Sayanti Das, the face of 'The Mission Hospital' for her extra-ordinary attention to the family in the hospital; to Rotarian Subir Roy of Rotary Club of Durgapur who maintained a close liaison with the Mission Hospital and arranged for the blood required for the surgery; to the Rotarians who visited the family regularly in hospital -- President Ramesh Janandania of Rotary Club Durgapur, Rotarian Satyanarayan Agarwal of Rotary Club of Tagore Land and many others.
The writer is Chairman District Gift of Life Programme, Rotary District 3272 (Pakistan & Afghanistan)
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
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Page 6 of 174
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