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Indraprastha Apollo Hospital鈥檚 Mission of Saving Lives amidst Coronavirus Fear: 7 Kids flown in from Manila and Philippines for immediate Liver Transplant

Date: 18 Aug 20

While the world grapples with the fear of contracting Coronavirus, authorities worldwide are entirely focused on tackling Covid-19 spread and have issued guidelines for the management of other diseases and health conditions. However, amidst the nationwide lockdown, some patients suffering from serious health conditions could not get specialized medical attention.

In a continuous effort to save lives, Apollo Hospital recently flew 7 children from Manila and Philippines, to Indraprastha Apollo Hospital as these children required immediate liver transplant and postponing the treatment any further posed a serious threat to their lives.

These kids were brought to the hospital on a special flight, with a medical team on board to tackle any emergencies. Earlier, 3 to 4 patients used to visit Indraprastha Apollo Hospital from Philippines every month. But ever since the lockdown began, these sick children had been awaiting liver transplant. These children were in grave health condition and delay in treatment any further would have serious health implications, thus the dire emergency to get them treated. Six kids need Liver Transplant and one required post 鈥 transplant assessment.

Dr Anupam Sibal, Group Medical Director and Paediatric Gastroenterologist, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, said, 鈥淎t Indraprastha Apollo we used to regularly get patients from Philippines in the pre-Covid times, but ever since countries imposed restrictions on travel and movement due to this pandemic, a lot of patients with pre-existing conditions of NCD鈥檚 have been deprived of medical attention. Also, owing to the fear of COVID-19, people who require surgeries are opting out, consequently leading to life threatening health complications. Similar was the case of these children seeking liver transplant, where any further delay in medical intervention could have been fatal. But we were fortunate to have immense support from embassies of both the countries who helped ease the process, charitable organisations that voluntarily offered to pay for the treatment and Actor Sonu Sood who helped in arranging flights for the children. All this helped us fasten the process of their travel.鈥

Dr. Neerav Goyal, Head - Liver Transplant, Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Unit, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, said "Due to fear of COVID-19, many patients who require essential lifesaving surgeries, are opting out of it, preferring to wait till this pandemic ends. In liver transplant, surgery is usually done when patients have a high risk of dying from their disease, in the ensuing one year. Since COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon, many of these patients are unlikely to survive the period of pandemic without a liver transplant. In our hospital we have made strict zoning and segregation of COVID-19 positive and negative areas, and thus we have been successfully carrying out complex transplants routinely. I can just say that for these patients, fear should not become so overwhelming and overpowering that they deny themselves life-saving surgeries.

Transporting these children to India was a daunting task in itself. There was no direct flight operating from Manila to New Delhi. Moreover, a medical team was required to travel with these sick children. But because of strict quarantine rules and regulations, no doctor was willing to take the risk. Fortunately, it was found that there were more than 10 interns who after finishing their medical training in Philippines, were flying down to Delhi in the same flight. These doctors were contacted, and they willingly volunteered to help these children in case of any emergencies in flight. To transfer these children to India, the hospital contacted FICCI, Philippines, for assistance. They also reached out to Bollywood Actor Sonu Sood who has helped thousands of migrant workers reach their native states. He arranged a Spice Jet flight to bring these children to India.

"Our child has waited for a long time for a liver transplant. We were due to visit Apollo Hospitals for his treatment in April", said a child's parent. "Due to lockdown, we could not visit. In the meantime, his condition deteriorated. We did not think that he would be able to make it. But God heard our prayers.鈥

The children parents said that they were in constant touch with the staff from Apollo Hospitals. They were hoping that the Indian government would operate flights from Manila to Delhi. In the end, constant efforts by the Apollo Hospital, Government Officials, FICCI Philippines, and Actor Sonu Sood bore fruit. The children reached the hospital safely, where they are currently undergoing medical treatment.

 

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