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A new life for Bushra Amin

By Ramya Kannan

Bushra Amin talking to reporters in Chennai on Thursday. — Photo: S.R. Raghunathan

CHENNAI, JULY 15. ``You are my heroine," V.V. Bashi told 19-year-old Bushra Amin from Pakistan. For the young woman too, at this point of time, Dr. Bashi is her hero.

Dr. Bashi, cardiac surgeon, MIOT Hospitals, Chennai, performed a complex cardiac surgery on Ms. Bushra — he and his team repaired a defective valve and restored her enlarged heart to normal size, giving her a new life.Born with a defective valve (mitral), Ms. Bushra's condition had worsened when she contracted an infection in the valve and regular blood flow was disrupted in the chambers of the heart. She was treated in Pakistan and doctors advised surgery to repair the valve.

"Repair, not replace, the valve. A procedure that is not being done in Pakistan.

Therefore we were asked to seek treatment in the United States, the United Kingdom or Europe," says Ms. Bushra's mother, Ms. Amin. Since it was expensive to go to the West, the family began a search over the Internet for institutions that would perform the more complex procedure of valve repair and zeroed in on MIOT Hospitals.

``There are a number of hospitals doing valve replacement in India, but few do valve repair. There are several

disadvantages to

replacing valves. Mechanical and biological replacements are expensive and the patient requires anti-coagulants and life-long blood tests. Also, it is not advisable if the girl is unmarried and has not yet borne children," Dr. Bashi said.

With repair, the patient does not have to take any medicines afterwards and the valve also lasts for a long while, he added.

Two or three months after the family began corresponding with MIOT Hospitals, Mr. Amin went to the embassy to get a visa. And despite all the talk about `Indo-Pakistan friendship,' it was difficult to get.

Ms. Amin said: "We had to face a lot of problems, even though there were valid medical grounds."

Embassy officials wondered why they were travelling to Chennai and not going to Narayana Hrudayalaya in Bangalore. "We could not go to Bangalore because they were not offering heart repair, only valve replacement. Only MIOT could help my daughter," Ms. Bushra's father explained.

But all's well that ends well. The family managed to come to Chennai and the surgery was successfully performed.

Dr. Bashi and his team including Srinivasa Babu, Aju Jacob and Subramaniam performed the surgery, cutting off the infected part and using a graft from the valve itself to repair the leak and get it functioning normally again.

Ms. Bushra is active again and her face glows as reporters gather around her, asking the usual questions, ``What are your plans?'', ``How do you feel now?'' ``What do you think of India?" She has obviously been asked these questions before; yet she says, with a tired smile: ``It's a nice place. I'm glad we came here. Yes, I was scared about the operation, but now I'm really happy. The first step is to go home — back to Pakistan."

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