Indian doctors, on Tuesday, resigned over claims that they had lied about the success of a weight loss surgery performed on the world's heaviest woman.
Thirty-six-year-old Eman Ahmed, from Alexandria, Egypt, recently underwent a lap-band surgery at Saifee hospital in Mumbai. Her entire medical team, except for India’s leading bariatric surgeon, Muffazal Lakdawala, quit saying they were upset by the accusations levelled by her family.
Indian doctors defend 500kg Egyptian's weight loss amid row
The 36-year-old, from Alexandria in Egypt, was born weighing 5kg (11lbs) and has lymphedema, a condition that causes body tissue to swell. At the age of 11, she had a stroke and has been unable to leave the house in 25 years.
In February this year, weighing about 500kg, she was flown to Mumbai for treatment.
Unable to attend the interview at the Indian embassy in Cairo, Eman was first denied a visa, but later granted one after Lakdawala appealed to India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Twitter.
Thanks for bringing this to my notice. We will definitely help her. pic.twitter.com/l6RfC5bWE4 https://t.co/fWBYilbPIY
— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) December 6, 2016
She underwent treatment, including bariatric surgery, in February and March, however, the relationship between her family and doctors tainted in April, when Lakdawala – while accepting a medical prize – claimed Eman had lost over 240kg.
This infuriated her sister, Shaimaa Selim, who posted a video on Facebook saying the doctors had lied about the extent of her weight loss, claiming Eman had been “destroyed” by the treatment.
This eight-month baby weighs 17kg and has doctors worried sick
“Since [the surgery] she is not able to talk, she is connected to this feeding tube… she is not able to move, she looks bluish, no improvement,” she said. The medical team “care about show and propaganda only, and to appear on mass media”, she added.
Ahmed’s doctors also replied on social media, posting pictures of scales showing she now weighed about 170kg. They also claimed results of a CT scan had shown no evidence the woman had suffered another stroke.
Shaimaa Selim u killed humanity with 1 swell blow may only God help u when u realise what u have done I will continue 2 treat & pray 4 Eman https://t.co/uoe5TSrvZU
— Dr Muffi Lakdawala (@DrMuffi) April 24, 2017
“What has happened is very sad,” said Aparna Bhasker, the chief bariatric surgeon at the Saifee hospital. “We are deeply hurt. This is the worst form of assault a doctor can face. An assault doesn’t always have to be physical. By resigning from the team, I am protesting against this form of assault,” she added.
Doctors said Eman would continue to receive treatment but the mass resignations were “symbolic”.
The price of bariatric treatment is about half the cost of undergoing the same procedure in the United States (US). Medical tourism to India is valued at about roughly $3 billion each year. By 2020, a 2015 report from the consultancy Grant Thornton forecast the market could rise to $8 billion.
This article originally appeared on The Guardian.
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