Humanity transcends all borders. This spirit was evident when an Indian doctor saved the life of a 13-year-old girl from Pakistan, who suffered a rare muscular rotatory condition.
BBC reported that the girl underwent successful surgery in India. Thanks to Dr. Rajagopalan Krishnan, a specialist in complex spinal surgeries at the Apollo Hospital in Delhi. He offered to do Afsheen’s surgery free of charge. Four months on, she has returned to her normal self. The wounds have healed. Dr. Krishnan checks on her via Skype every week.
Hailing from Sindh province, Afsheen Gul, the youngest of seven siblings, never went to school or playing with her friends due to her disability. She fell from her sister’s arm when she was just 10 months old. Her neck bent at 90 degrees. Her parents took her to the doctor who gave her some medicines and put a belt around her neck for support, but her condition only worsened.
“She could not walk, eat or talk. She used to just lie on the ground and we used to help her with everything,” Afsheen’s mother Jamilan Bibi told the BBC, adding that they could not afford further treatment.
But her life changed when they received a call from “messiah”- Dr. Rajagopalan Krishnan. “This is probably the first case of its kind in the world,” he said, according to the report.
Afsheen Gul suffered from atlantoaxial rotatory dislocation, a rotation of the spine that causes neck impairment. Afsheen also suffers from cerebral palsy and learned to walk and speak very later in her life, which further pushed her behind other children of her age.
“She is a little weak – and is still unable to go to school – but the doctor says that will get better with time,” Afsheen’s brother Yaqoob Qumbar says. “We are so happy – the doctor saved my sister’s life. For us he is an angel,” Qumbar says.
In 2019, a British journalist reported on her condition and her family’s financial position. He also put the family in touch with Dr. Krishnan in Delhi, who spoke to Qumbar and told him that he was willing to help Afsheen. The family applied for a visa on medical grounds and arrived in India in November last year. An independent childcare organization, Darul Sukoon, helped them with the process.
Afsheen underwent two major surgeries before the main neck surgery, which was followed by another major operation. The main surgery took place in February. Dr. Krishan told the BBC that he and his team attached Afsheen’s skull to her spinal cord during a six-hour operation. The skull was then attached to the cervical spine using a stick and screws to keep the neck straight.
After the surgery was successful, Dr. Krishnan told reporters that Afsheen would not have lived for long without treatment. But she is now “smiling and talking”, Qumbar said in July when he posted a picture of his smiling sister on Facebook a day before Eid. There are some complications though – she’s still slower than other children, many of whom often judge her for that, her brother says.