Eman Ahmed leaves Mumbai

Egyptian national Eman Ahmed Abd El Aty leaves India on May 4.   | Photo Credit: Jyoti Shelar

In the end, amid a media frenzy, Eman Ahmed bid an emotional farewell to the city where her life took a turn for the better after 25 bedridden years in her Egyptian hometown of Alexandria.

Clad in a baby pink hospital gown, Ms. Ahmed, who was once said to be the heaviest woman in the world at 500 kg, weighed 170 kg as she left Saifee Hospital on Thursday in a special wheelchair before being transferred to an ambulance waiting to take her to the airport. On February 11, when she arrived here, a specially-made bed and a crane were needed to transport her from the airport to the hospital.

The hospital’s nursing staff, who had looked after her for 82 days as she first underwent a stringent diet regime before going under the knife for weight loss surgery, said goodbye with flowers. The city traffic police arranged for a ‘green corridor’ that enabled the ambulance bearing Ms. Ahmed to make the trip from Charni Road to the international airport’s Gate No. 5 in just 18 minutes, a journey that normally takes an hour. Ms. Ahmed flew out to Abu Dhabi on an EgyptAir cargo plane at 7.41 p.m.

“It was an emotional moment for all of us. Over the last several months, we have all been closely monitoring her case and all of us had developed a bond. We did not want her to leave this way,” Dr. Aparna Govil, a member of bariatric surgeon Dr. Muffazal Lakdawala’s team that treated Ms. Ahmed, said.

Bitter parting

The emotion and drama surrounding Ms. Ahmed’s departure just about covered for the continuing bad blood between her sister Shaimaa Selim and Dr. Lakdawala. Arguments over the final arrangements threatened to mar the proceedings, and needed intervention by State Health Minister Dr. Deepak Sawant.

First up was the standoff between Saifee Hospital and VPS Healthcare, which runs Burjeel Hospital in Abu Dhabi. The latter had been approached by Ms. Selim after she fell out with Dr. Lakdawala, and it is where Ms. Ahmed will continue her treatment. The VPS Healthcare team had demanded a bed-to-bed transfer, a standard international practice in which a patient changing hospitals is shifted directly to a bed at the destination facility by the hospital of origin. However, the Saifee Hospital management said they would only transfer her from their wheelchair to a stretcher near the ambulance.

Then, Ms. Selim refused to sign certain medical papers, and at one point, said she would go in for a Discharge Against Medical Advice (DAMA). Finally, Dr. Sawant and a senior police officer met with Ms. Selim for over half-an-hour to calm things down.

Dr. Shajir Gaffar, CEO, Burjeel Hospital said his team there will assess Ms Ahmed’s condition. “We will ensure that she does well physically and psychologically,” he added, while thanking the city administration for the green corridor and other arrangements.

Speaking to The Hindu from the tarmac at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Ms. Selim made a last-minute bid to set things right, saying Indians have showered tremendous love and affection on her sister. “I respect all Indians. I had a problem with Saifee Hospital and Dr. Lakdawala, not with Indians.”

But she couldn’t hold back a final tirade against the hospital management, saying she had requested that the media not be allowed to come close to Ms. Ahmed as she left the hospital. “But they ensured that there was enough drama during the transfer. Eman was in tears when she suddenly saw so many people,” Ms Selim said. She also claimed that several cameras were put up by the hospital in Ms. Ahmed’s room and the corridor leading to it after she stopped videographers from shooting Ms. Ahmed for a planned documentary film.

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Printable version | Nov 28, 2021 3:39:16 AM |

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