When doctors in his country informed 13-year-old Abdul Salam’s family that his arm would have to be amputated because of bone cancer, his father broughreplaced t him to Mumbai. After getting fitted with a metallic arm at Nanavati Hospital, Salam is on his way to recovery
On Republic day, while India will be immersed in patriotic celebrations, a Pakistani family will board the Mumbai-Karachi flight, taking with them some special memories that transformed their lives.
Ghulam Abrar Hussain with his son Abdul Salam. Pic/Satyajit Desai
After facing numerous setbacks in their own country due to inadequate medical services, Ghulam Abrar Hussain, 42, reached Mumbai on January 5 to seek a medical solution for the rare bone cancer plaguing his 13-year-old boy Abdul Salam.
While the only option offered by Pakistani doctors was to amputate the right arm, Mumbai doctors spent close to five-and-a-half hours replacing the cancer-stricken limb with a metallic one.
“The pain in my arm has vanished. After seeing what the doctors did for me, I have decided to become a doctor when I grow up,” the grateful teenager told sunday mid-day.
As a bright Class seven student of Little Angel School in Faisalabad, Salam’s biggest regret that he missed the academic year due to the ailment. While the admission process in Pakistan starts from September, his right arm started bothering him during summer vacations in June, 2014.
After a misdiagnosis and several visits to hospitals, Hussain was informed by Lahore’s Shaukat Khan Memorial Hospital that Salam had cancer. “But there was a shortage of chemo drugs. We went to Karachi’s Aga Khan Hospital where his chemotherapy sessions started,” said Hussain.
However, Salam’s hopes of getting back to his routine crashed when the doctors told the family that his right hand would have to be amputated to protect the cancer from spreading to other parts of his body. Their only hope lay in Mumbai.
Miracle in Mumbai
Nearly six months after his predicament started, the family struggled to get a medical visa for three weeks. The doctors at Nanavati Hospital operated on Salam on January 10. Dr BS Rajput, consultant orthopaedic at Nanavati Hospital said, “It was a case of Telangiectatic Osteosarcoma, generally found in children and adolescents.
The cancer had already severely affected his arm bone and would have gradually spread through the blood to other sections of the body. Hence, we decided to go for the metal arm. After the operation, we conducted a full body bone scan and found that the boy has fully recovered from the ailment.”
While Salam is on the path to recovery and misses his siblings back home, he regrets not having seen more of the city. “Mumbai is like Karachi. I never felt that I am away from home.
I wanted to see the Gateway of India and Marine drive but we don’t have enough time. I’m going to visit Juhu beach. I’ve heard it’s just like the Clifton beach of Karachi,” the teenager said with a smile, eager to spend his last day in Mumbai out of the hospital, in the city that gave him a new life.