Today is fifth Friday and first Eid after Fasih.
This post is about fragility of our lives.
In May 2018, I was in my office in Mississauga, Canada when I recieved a call from Jibran Nasir. He introduced me to Maria Aleem Junejo and said she was trying for a medical visa for her husband Aleem for India, and if there is any way she could be helped. He created a separate whatsapp group, and I began to chat with her.
I found Maria a very educated and strong willed person, who would do everything to help her husband Aleem get health and a new lease of life. Her husband had a lung condition for which the only permanent solution was a Heart-Lung Transplant. The wife was trying her level best to explore options for H-L Transplant including going to US or India. “Money is not a problem”, she said.
My next natural step was to refer Aleem & Maria to Fasih’s Pulmonology Clinic at Taj Consultants Clinics in Karachi. I knew Fasih had done some research paper on cases similar to his lung condition, years ago.
Fasih called them to his clinic. They kept visiting him off and on. Fasih had told me and to them as well, “His lung complication can best be managed supportively to prevent complications till he is able to recieve a HL transplant.”
We tried our best for Indian medical.visa, knowing that was not difficult. I contacted the Consulate, wrote to the Indian Foreign Minister then, Madame Sushma Swaraj ( who had previously responded persoanlly to few of my emails with great affection) and a few insiders. But this time I did not get any reply. I even followed requests to Madam Sushma Swaraj on twitter and there was no response, once again.
I then wrote to a very trusted journalist friend in Delhi. He explored and found out why I was not getting the response. He told me, “Ilmana there is little we can do for him. H-L transplant is a rare procedure that happens in some Indian hospitals and there is already a long queue for patients because it can only happen when there is massive fatal accident of a young person, whose entire Heart-Lung system needs to be taken almost immediately after death and transplanted to the recipient. There are already many patients waiting in line for years. It is not possible to jump through line, nor is it fair. Also being a very critical procedure, it is prioritized for Indian nationals only.”
This was a fair argument.
My next natural outrage was at Pakistani healthcare system. And how broken it was and how the country could make nuclear weapons but cannot have tertiary care centre for Heart Lung Transplant. How many young lives are lost, only if H-L.Transplant could be used to help save lives. Ofc as usual I tagged PM Imran Khan and President Dr. Arif Alvi, Asad Omer, Ali Zaidi and others from Naya Pakistan, on several social media posts on FB and Twitter. My hope was at least these new ‘clean’ Pakistani politicians would care to bring this facility of Heart Lung Transplant to Pakistanis within Pakistan too. There was already no hope from other politicians anyways. If Pakistanis can get bombs and F-16s why not Heart Lung transpant too. But then why would they listen to a rant from a nobody like me.
I may have expected and gotten response from Sushma Swaraj, but there is no tradition of responding to ‘nobodies’ from the ‘powerfuls’ in Pakistan. ( BTW, not once have I been responded by anyone, in person or on social media on Syed Fasihuddin‘s demise in Pakistan, as a patriotic Pakistan, CEO of Taj Consultants Clinics, who invested everything and returned to Karachi with a dream to establish quality healthcare, died serving on the frontlines in the very city he loved to serve.
A busy Pakistani American, Dr. Faheem Younus, the famous & leading pulmonologist from US could find time and relevance to condole in a message, but none from those in power in Pakistan at municipal, provincial or federal level. Such is the Raisat e Madina.They love and value economy, the VVIPs, personal friends but not other ordinary citizens including doctors. The only person for which PMIK has tweeted was”my friend” from Aitchitosn and VC from Nishtar who passed away from COVID. Ofcourse doctors dying on the frontlines who are not VVIPs or their classfellows, are like disposible gloves. So what if they are patriotic, humanity loving sincere proffessionals. Anyways, thats a discussion reserved for another day).
I know very well this Aleem’s wife Maria left no stone unturned. She kept reaching out to everyone who could possibly help in some hope to give a new lease of life to her ailing husband. She created a page Hope for Aleem, and kept helping others in need too through this page.
When Fasih was in Canada in May, he was giving advice to someone on phone about their health issues. After he put the phone down he told me, it was Maria.
This gentleman lost his battle against his ailment, on July 28, 2020.
I messaged a condolence note to her and mentioning about Fasih. And her reply was,
“NOOOOOOO. I dont know about Dr. Fasih’s death. He was a great human being who helped him a LOT.”
Madam Sushma Swaraj suddenly passed way on 6 Aug 2019.
Fasih, his pulmonologist went away himself a month before the person for who he worried for his terminal lung condition..
The point of this post is obvious. All our lives our fragile. Extremely fragile. Yet some of us, especially our people in power live as if they are the bosses on Earth, invincible and indispensible.
Samaan saw baras ka, pal ki khaber nahin hai.
(We plan for 100 years, but cannot gaurantee our life the next minute).
A very Eid Mubarak to you all ‘nobodies’ !