Mumbai's first heart transplant patients now face monetary woes

While the city’s historic first and second heart transplants gave these two youths a new lease of life last month, their families are now struggling to keep up with mounting expenses on treatment and care

More than a month has passed since these two youths made history as the first to successfully undergo heart transplants in Mumbai, and while thankful for the new lease of life this has given them, their families are now overwhelmed by the mounting expenses on treatment and care.

Also Read: 'It was like my own heart was brought to Mumbai'

While the heart transplant gave Anwar Khan (below) a new lease of life, his family is concerned about how they will keep up with the costs of his treatment. File pics
While the heart transplant gave Anwar Khan (below) a new lease of life, his family is concerned about how they will keep up with the costs of his treatment. File pics

22-year-old Anwar Khan made news after he underwent the city’s first heart transplant on August 3 (‘It was like my own heart was brought to Mumbai’, mid-day, August 4). But with his treatment costing upwards of Rs 40,000 a month, his family cannot even afford to celebrate Eid this year.

This paper had reported how a dahi handi group had heard about his family’s financial constraints, and offered to give them Rs 5 lakh from the prize money (‘Dahi handi group to donate prize money to transplant recipient’, September 5).

The money would have been a big relief for the family, which earns about Rs 12-16,000 a month from their scrap dealing business. However, they have not received the money or even heard back from the dahi handi group since.

“The group got publicity by claiming they would help my son, but then they disappeared. They never contacted us, leave aside giving us the money. If they didn't want to help, why did they promise to in the first place? We really thought the money would help us take care of the expenses for some time at least,” said Jamil Khan, Anwar’s father.

Despite attempts to contact them, the group was not available for comment. Now, the family has decided to forgo Eid celebrations because they spent a whopping R50,000 on a heart biopsy at Fortis Hospital on Sunday. “There is a lot of financial pressure; monthly expenses are over Rs 40,000 and we just spent a large amount on the biopsy.

Because of this, we cannot afford to celebrate Eid this year,” said Jamil. There are other costs — medication, a separate apartment had to be rented for Anwar to minimise his exposure to germs, this room has to be regularly disinfected and kept air-conditioned.

His family has pawned their jewellery to keep up with the expenses, but they are now concerned about how much they might have to pay the hospital for the transplant procedure. While most of the cost for the surgery was paid through the hospital’s charity funds, there is still not much clarity on how much the family is supposed to pay.

Family has no money to pay bills piling up

29-year-old Dilesh Tambe — who also underwent a heart transplant at Fortis just four days after Anwar — was recently handed a bill of Rs 30 lakh by the hospital. Struggling to pay the monthly costs alone, the Tambe family has no idea how they are going to pay off the mammoth hospital bill.

Read Story: Second heart transplant at Fortis Hospital also successful

29-year-old Dilesh Tambe’s recovery has been slower than Anwar’s, but his health is also slowly improving, thanks to his brother Dipesh, who quit his job so he could take care of him. Pics/ Datta Kumbhar
29-year-old Dilesh Tambe’s recovery has been slower than Anwar’s, but his health is also slowly improving, thanks to his brother Dipesh, who quit his job so he could take care of him. Pics/ Datta Kumbhar

Dilesh and his brother Dipesh used to work together at the Mulund toll plaza, bringing home about Rs 25,000 a month. But not only did Dilesh have to leave the job because of his illness, but after his surgery, even his brother Dipesh had to quit so he could stay home and take care of him.

With no income, they are currently relying on loans to get through this difficult time. “My mother had fractured her right hand just before Dilesh’s surgery and and I had to quit my job to take care of him. He still cannot walk or bathe or even take his medicines on his own.

But the problem is that the earnings have come to a halt, and I haven’t been able to go out and ask for help either,” he explained, adding that expenses kept escalating, as the family first had to shift from Diva to Kalyan so they could be closer to the hospital, and then had to install an AC in Dilesh’s room after he experienced dizziness and discomfort.

“We are already struggling to pay the monthly medical expense and hospital visit costs, how will we pay the bill? We even tried approaching a few charitable trusts and wrote to MEP (Mumbai Entry Points Ltd), for whom my brother worked for over a decade. But there has been no result so far,” said Dipesh.

On being contacted by mid-day, Jayant Mhaiskar, director at MEPL said he wasn’t aware of the issue but that he would be more than happy to extend support to the patient. “I haven’t received any such appeal letter. But I’ll certainly find out from the concerned authorities why the letter wasn’t forwarded to me.

If he was an employee of MEPL and he has the necessary records and details of the bills, I’ll certainly find out what can be done,” he said. Meanwhile, Dilesh is now on the road to recovery and has gained 2 kg as well. “Fortis and the doctors pulled off a magic act by saving my brother’s life. Our only focus right now is to keep the treatment going, in spite of the financial struggles,” said his brother.

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