Family dumps amputated leg behind hospital

Ibrahim was suffering from Thromboangiitis Obliterans, also known as Buerger’s disease.

Furqan Rajput February 03, 2011

HYDERABAD: A human leg was found behind the Liaquat University of Medical Health Sciences (LUMHS), Jamshoro, on Thursday, causing panic among people.

The hospital administration said that surgeons had amputated a patient’s leg and had handed the limb over to the family, asking them to bury it. The family did not agree and apparently decided to dispose of it outside the hospital gate.

LUMHS bones ward Dr Kashif Abbasi told Daily Express that the leg belongs to a 60-year-old resident of Hala, Muhammad Ibrahim, who was admitted to the hospital a few days ago.

Ibrahim was suffering from Thromboangiitis Obliterans, also known as Buerger’s disease, in which there is a recurring progressive inflammation and clotting of small and medium arteries and veins of the hands and feet. It is strongly associated with the use of tobacco products.

According to Ibrahim’s son, Roshan, his father developed Buerger’s disease several years ago in his right leg but he was treated and cured. “My father did not stop smoking after his treatment and soon after the disease surfaced in his left leg,” said Roshan.

It has been three years since the disease resurfaced and Ibrahim has sought treatment from several hospitals in Karachi. The doctors at LUMHS conducted a CT scan which revealed clotted veins in his left leg. They decided to amputate it from below the knee.

On Thursday morning, the four-hour-long operation was carried out and Ibrahim’s leg was handed over to his family. Roshan said that he gave the leg to his relatives, who were visiting from their village, to take it back and bury it. He failed, however, to explain why the leg was left behind in the hospital building.

According to hospital policy, any body part cut off from a patient is given to an attendant (patient’s family or caretaker) so they can dispose of it in line with their own traditions, said Dr Abbasi. He explained that this policy was introduced because several patients believed that the doctors used their body parts in black magic.

“Patients came to complain of a pain in their ankle even after their legs were removed,” he said. Civil Hospital, Hyderabad and Jamshoro, do not have a formal procedure or system to cremate body parts. Previously, they were cremated by the respective hospital administration. But due to a lack of funds, this responsibility was handed over to the patients’ families. Earlier, incinerators were installed at several hospitals in Hyderabad but due to shortage of Sui gas, these machines could not be used any more.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 4th, 2011.

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