Cairo denies Mumbai doc chance to operate on world's heaviest person

Updated: Dec 14, 2016, 08:35 IST | Rupsa Chakraborty |

mid-day's exclusive report on 500-kg Iman Ahmad Abdulati seeking Mumbai surgeon's help miffs Egyptian surgeons, who have decided to take on her case. City doc misses chance to make world record

On December 7, mid-day broke the story of the world's heaviest woman finding help from Mumbai bariatric surgeon Dr Muffazal Lakdawala, who tweeted to Foreign Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj for a medical visa. But after top air ambulance services expessed helplessness at being unable to ferry the patient to India, Egyptian surgeons sprung into action, launching a pride campaign, #Egyptians_are_capable.

Mumbai might have missed its chance to clinch the world record for operating on the world's heaviest woman -- Egyptian national Iman Ahmad Abdulati -- after doctors in her home country have come forward to assist in her surgery.

Mumbai-based bariatric surgeon Dr Muffazal Lakdawala (right) claims Iman’s sister had unsuccessfully sought help from local surgeons

mid-day had first reported on Decemner 7 that Iman, who at 500 kg is touted to be the world's fattest, had struggled to procure a medical visa for a life-saving fat-reduction surgery. After clearing that hurdle, Dr Muffazal Lakdawala, Mumbai-based bariatric surgeon and chairman of the Institute of Minimal Invasive Surgical Sciences and Research Centre at Saifee Hospital, who was to perform the surgery, was looking for an alternative to airlift Iman to Mumbai as the doors of the air ambulance weren't wide enough to get her inside the aircraft.

Dr Mohey Elbanna, professor of Laparoscopic and Bariatric Surgery at Ain Shams University, Cairo, takes responsibility for the case

However, after news of Iman's ordeal broke out, Egyptian doctors at Ain Shams Hospitals in Cairo have come forward to operate on her. The Egyptian army has also assured to provide logistical help to ensure that she is transported safely from Alexandria to Cairo.

Speaking to mid-day from Egypt, Dr Mohey Elbanna, professor of laparoscopic and bariatric surgery at Ain Shams University, Cairo, said, Dr El-Meteini, dean of the faculty at the hospital, has roped in three senior bariatric surgeons to manage Iman's case.

Iman Abdulati is currently waiting to be airlifted from her hometown, Alexandria, in EgyptIman Abdulati is currently waiting to be airlifted from her hometown, Alexandria, in Egypt

“In June, Dr El-Meteini, approved the establishment of the bariatric surgery department in the hospital. It is the first-of-its-kind in Egypt and the Arab world. Ten imminent Egyptian bariatric surgeons have joined the department,” said Dr Elbanna.
Asked if the doctors have spoken to Iman's family, Dr Elbanna said, “I am not the right person to comment on it. When she will be admitted, we will let you know.”

Dr Dr Khaled Gawdat, founder of Egyptian Society of Bariatric Surgery, who is part of the team of doctors, confirmed the development. In a reply to an email sent by mid-day, he said, “We will perform her surgery as soon as she is ready.”

No help so far
As per information provided by Dr Lakdawala, Iman's sister tried to get help from surgeons across Egypt for years. However, when they received no help to operate on her, the family reached out to Dr Lakdawala.

“Her sister has been writing to doctors across the globe. I have a friend in Egypt who informed me about the case and I agreed to help the patient. The family contacted me and agreed to come to Mumbai for surgery,” said Dr Lakdawala.

The report, which was published in an Egyptian newspaper on December 9, on Mumbai-based doctors had offered to help

When mid-day asked Dr Gawdat if they had received any such request from Iman's sister, he said, “Not true, we have worked on many similar cases in the past 20 years.”

Another doctor said the Egyptian health ministry has stated that Iman's family didn't seek surgical advice.

mid-day was the first to report on December 7 of Dr Muffazal Lakdawala offering to operate on 500-kg-heavy Iman Abdulati  

'Egyptians are capable too'
After news about Iman's family reaching out to India went viral, Egyptian doctors took it as an affront. Over the last week, messages with the hashtag #Egyptians_are_capable have been doing the rounds online. Dr Ahmed Elgeidie, a bariatric surgeon from Egypt who is also ready to help Iman, said, “Egyptian surgeons see this as an insult. They want to ensure that the surgery happens in Egypt.”

This is not the first time that Mumbai might lose the opportunity to clinch a medical record. In 2014, a 350 kg-weighing patient from Oman tried to come to Mumbai for a surgery, but couldn't find transport. Eventually, the doctor and the patient gave up. Later, the patient was shifted to the UAE for the surgery.

Dr Lakdawala denied that Egyptian doctors had come forward to help out with Iman's surgery. “It is false. They haven't approached the family and the patient doesn't want to get operated there. She will come to Mumbai for the surgery,” he said, adding that it would take another 15 days to arrange the aircraft to airlift Iman from Egypt.

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