My sister didn't visit the Punjab Institute of Cardiology
Had I planned her checkup at PIC, she would have taken the same medicine that resulted in the death of over 70 people.
I visited Pakistan this winter to spend my holidays with my family. After spending some lovely days with my parents at my dad’s farmhouse in the cool country side of Sargodha – the world’s best citrus fruit producing area - and returned to Rawalpindi for some work.
While driving along the way, I received a phone call from my sister. She told me she had an intestinal gas problem, which had resulted in low blood pressure and had caused her to faint. By the time she called me, thankfully, she was feeling better.
‘Intestinal gas’ is the ultimate diagnosis in our village. Knowing that she has been hypertensive as well as diabetic for some time, I got worried and inquired exactly what had happened. As she described her symptoms and answered my questions, I concluded that it was a cardiac event of ischemic nature but of mild intensity. I told her that it wasn’t her stomach acting up, but her heart.
The next morning she reported to a cardiologist in Sargodha and her ECG revealed that she had something between an angina problem and ischemic heart disease. She returned with a prescription and advice from the doctor to get a blood test and lipid profile done.
Her test reports revealed that she lacked hemoglobin but had high cholesterol and triglycerides. Being a mother of three young children, she was immediately put on an appropriate drug regime.
Her cardiologist advised me to get her angiography done. I talked to my friend Dr Muhammad Saleem, who works in the Punjab Institute of Cardiology, Lahore (PIC) as a trainee for a fellowship in cardiology. He advised me to plan her checkup at PIC where he would personally take care of her. Feeling a little relaxed, my sister was not take to the hospital immediately.
A week after her second visit, she had the same condition. This alarmed everyone.
Lahore was far away, so an appointment with a renowned cardiologist in Chenab Nagar was arranged. The results were the same. Her angiography was done on the day I took my flight for France. Nothing abnormal was found, except anemia. She was put on cardiac as well as anemia medication.
The story starts here.
Had I planned a checkup at PIC at that time, she too would have had taken the same medicine that killed over 70 people to date, without having any cardiac illness.
After arriving in France, I saw the news reports of people dying from those medicines, due to the failure of the clotting mechanism in their blood.
I felt my forehead sweating. I ran away from thoughts of what would have had happened to my sister. She lives in the countryside and was unaware of the tragedy that had happened in Lahore. I felt it was best not to tell her right away.
The question here is: what about those 100 people who lost their lives? Where is the health ministry? Where is the government?
Where is justice?
Will a newspaper ad heal their families’ wounds?
Would it have healed mine?
I heard one of the grieving widows of a person who died of that same medicine. I cried buckets while listening to her, imagining myself in her unfortunate position.
The manufacturer of those drugs must pay for his gross negligence. I don’t know how much has to be done until justice is served.