Mumbai: Footage of Eman Ahmed being moved through a wheelchair in a Mumbai hospital exposes the insensitivity with which her send-off was handled. Reporters pushed and shoved so close to her that Ms Ahmed was at risk. "The way Eman's case has been handled was beyond grotesque, she was converted into a freak show," said Mumbai columnist Shobhaa De, appearing on NDTV last night.
- Egyptian Eman Ahmed had stomach-stapling surgery in Mumbai
- Released yesterday from hospital, camera scrum took place
- Checks into Abu Dhabi hospital which shares video of her arrival
Three months ago, weighing 500 kilos, the Egyptian known as the world's heaviest woman arrived for bariatric surgery or stomach stapling to Saifee Hospital, which said it was happy to treat her at no cost. Her medical and travel expenses - a crane was used to remove her from her home in Alexandria in Egypt, which she had not left for 20 years and she arrived in Mumbai on a refurbished cargo plane - were paid in part through crowd-sourcing.
Her surgery took place last March. Doctors late last month said the 37-year-old now weighs 176 Kilos, but her sister, Shaima, posted a video on social media describing that as "absolute lies" and says that Ms Ahmed is now experiencing convulsions as a result of her surgery, claims that Saifee Hospital has refuted in detail, including in this blog written for NDTV.com by her main doctor, Muffazal Lakdawala.
"Which doctor would be out of his mind to seek publicity on the most difficult case where the odds are so heavily loaded against you?" he said last night on NDTV, responding to criticism of Ms Ahmed's privacy being compromised.
To ensure the case did not escalate into a diplomatic crisis, the Maharashtra government ensured updates were given to the Egyptian embassy in Mumbai. Shaina NC, a spokesperson of the ruling BJP, was assigned to brief reporters on Ms Ahmed's condition and repeatedly reassured that doctors and nurses were providing quality care. "Eman Ahmed was free to go to any country she chose, but she said she would like to be operated by Dr Lakdawala in India," said Shaina NC on NDTV.
Ms Ahmed was reportedly diagnosed as a child with elephantiasis, leaving her almost immobile. She has suffered a stroke and faced a series of other serious ailments owing to her weight including diabetes, high blood pressure, hypertension and sleep deprivation. She is unable to speak properly and is partially paralysed.
Shaina NC said last morning that Ms Ahmed's sister had refused to sign documents that were needed to allow the patient's release. Sources at VPS healthcare that's taken Eman to Abu Dhabi now say that they would have preferred for her to be moved through the hospital on a mobile bed which would have been wheeled upto the ambulance parked outside that took her to the airport. Instead, they suggest, the Egyptian was made to exit on a wheelchair, partly because it would make for better images. Some hospital staff, they said, wanted to make the point that "Eman arrived on a bed and left in a wheelchair" to demonstrate the improvement in her condition.
Doctors from Abu Dhabi, where Ms Ahmed was flown to, were present for her release from Saifee Hospital.
Maharashtra's Health Minister Deepak Sawant mediated Ms Ahmed's argument with the staff over documents, which were finally signed. She was then moved through a green corridor - a specially arranged traffic-free route -to reach the airport.
The Abu Dhabi hospital where she is newly admitted has released a video of Ms Ahmed's arrival which also displays a luxurious room where she will stay.
She is scheduled to spend a year at the hospital undergoing physiotherapy. But the hospital has said that Eman is welcome to stay till the time she feels fit to return to Alexandria.