Pakistani Teen with Mother

Cross-Border Miracle: Pakistani Teen's Heart Transplant in India

In a touching story of compassion and medical competence spanning borders, a 19-year-old teen named Ayesha Rashan, from Karachi, Pakistan, has been given a second chance at life after a successful heart transplant procedure at Chennai’s MGM Healthcare.

Ayesha’s journey goes way back to 2019 when she came to India with a serious heart ailment that finally resulted in heart failure. She was put on ECMO, a vital life support system, because of her condition, which required immediate attention.

Recalling her condition, Dr. KR Balakrishnan Director of Heart & Lung Transplant, at MGM Healthcare said, “The child came in 2019 when she was just 14 years old. She was very sick and had a serious heart dysfunction. At one point her heart stopped, so we did CPR and put her on a temporary pump called ECMO. And then eventually we featured an artificial heart pump called Medtronic HVAD, which is quite expensive.”

But this was just the beginning. Ayesha’s condition was getting even more severe. There came a point where her heart pump began to leak valves, which led her doctors to come to only one conclusion and that was to perform a complete heart transplant. However, performing a heart transplant was not easy in this case as there were financial challenges. The procedure, routinely exceeding Rs 35 lakh, seemed an insurmountable obstacle.

But here, the doctors showed remarkable dedication and commitment. When the medical staff at the Institute of Heart and Lung Transplant learned about Ayesha’s serious condition and the obstacles she faced financially, they immediately took action under the direction of Dr. KR Balakrishnan, Director of the Institute, and Dr. Suresh Rao, Co-Director of the Institute. The doctors in collaboration with the Chennai-based Aishwaryam Trust took on the responsibility and generously covered the entire cost of the surgery.

Surprisingly, Ayesha was able to have the transplant right away since the donor organ was free of competing claims, which would not have often been the case for an international patient. She received her new heart from a Delhi-born donor who was 69 years old and had been deemed brain dead.

When asked about what prompted the doctors to go beyond their means to save Ayesha’s life, Dr. Balakrishnan simply said, “She is very young. She could be my daughter… every life matters. We can’t treat the whole world but certainly we can make a difference to those who come in contact with us.” This great emotional involvement as seen in this case shows us how much the doctors do to take care of every life they work to rescue.

Being overwhelmed Ayesha and her mother Sanobar also expressed their sincere gratitude to the Indian government for making the medical intervention possible. They further revealed the scarcity of cutting-edge healthcare facilities in their native country Pakistan, where they were told there were no possibilities for transplants.

Now, as she gets ready to return to Pakistan, Ayesha is looking forward with renewed optimism and hopes to pursue a profession in fashion design. This showcases her resilience and will to live life to the fullest as she gets a second shot at life.

This touching story also reminds us of other examples of international medical cooperation. One such example is the story of Mansoor Ahmed, a well-known hockey goalkeeper from Pakistan, who traveled to India in 2018 to have a heart transplant. Ahmed’s narrative, which is marked by difficulties following heart procedures, emphasizes the significance of modern, easily available healthcare for anyone, irrespective of their background or nationality.

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