An elderly Indian man travelled to Pakistan with his wife and brother in-law without a visa and received emergency medical treatment in a Karachi hospital last month, the Mumbai Mirror reported on Friday. The treatment helped saved his life, the newspaper said.
Vasant Bondale, 76, was returning to Mumbai from a Scandinavian tour via Istanbul when he suffered a heart attack in mid-air. Bondale, a resident of Thane city in Maharashtra state, accompanied by his wife, Nalini and her brother, Vijay Phadnis landed at Karachi airport and were rushed to a private hospital. Airport authorities allowed them to enter the country without any visas or travel documentation.
“I was not scared of landing in Pakistan as the priority was to save my husband. It was of course on my mind that we had no visas, but the Pakistani authorities never brought it up. In fact, their cooperation is something that we don’t have words to express,” Nalini told the newspaper.
When Jayant, Bondale’s son, heard about his father’s heart attack, he decided to come to Pakistan too, but was unsure if he could get a visa in such a short time. “Believe it or not, I got a visa in a matter of hours,” the Mirror quoted Jayant as saying. Jayant expressed gratitude to Pakistani officials for their support.
“One of the officials even asked his wife to come to the hospital and stay with me just so that I would feel like we were in a safe place,” Nalini said. “They treated us like family.”
Up in the air
A cardiologist flying on the same Turkish airlines flight as Bondale , Dr Sudhir Bhate, confirmed that Bondale was having a heart attack and recommended that the patient be taken to the nearest hospital emergency.
Pilots of Turkish Airline flight TK 720 asked the nearest ATC tower- in Karachi- for an emergency landing due to a medical urgency, Junaid Kausar, manager operations for Turkish Airlines in Karachi told the Mirror.
An ambulance was ready at the Jinnah International Airport for Bondale. “The medical team rushed Vasant to the Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi. Vasant was put on a ventilator in the cardiac care unit,” Kausar added.
The Indian ministry of external affairs has also confirmed the whole episode. “Our officials in Karachi have expressed their gratitude to Pakistani authorities,” ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 19th, 2013.