The Quint spoke to Dr Aparna Govil Bhaskar, Section Surgery Chief at Saifee Hospital at the Center for Obesity & Digestive Surgery. She has been working with the team of doctors treating Eman Ahmed Abd Al Aty, who used to be the world’s heaviest woman, weighing approximately 500 kilograms when she was flown in from Egypt to Mumbai in February 2017.
Dr Aparna also answered questions about recent allegations made by Eman’s sister about inadequate care and further damage done to Eman by her and her team.
Eman’s Journey Till Now
Eman hadn’t spoken a word in 25 years, was unable to sit for even a minute, was paralysed on her right side after a stroke three years ago, suffered from Type 2 Diabetes, several obstructive lung diseases, gout, lymphoedema and several other ailments. Two weeks ago, her doctors who have been regularly updating the public about her recovery, said she had lost more than 300 kilograms and even uploaded a video of Eman listening to some music, sitting up in her hospital bed and speaking a few lines in Arabic.
Following this, her sister Shaima Ahmed, who has been with Eman throughout her treatment, released a video on Facebook accusing her doctors for lying saying there had been no such weight loss, that Eman had suffered strokes because of her bariatric surgery, there were never adequate facilities – among other allegations. In her first CT scan in two decades after being able to fit into one yesterday, Eman showed no signs of a fresh stroke, and only scar tissue from the one she had in Egypt.
Dr Aparna Govil I don’t know why she’s saying these things. The before and after pictures are out there for everyone to see. It’s on the hospital records [...] Honestly, I feel very sad that today I have to sit here and defend [myself] against all the allegations that she has made. As a doctor, I think this is the most disappointing point in my career and also Dr Muffi Lakdawala’s career. After doing everything and going beyond our limits to help somebody, to hear something like this is completely heartbreaking.
She further adds: “She had issues with Egyptian doctors before coming here. She said in front of Egypt’s Consulate General just yesterday that she wasn’t confident about the medical care in Egypt. She’s also not sure if anyone else will do it pro bono like us. So, [further treatment] will definitely not be free moving forward.”
According to Eman’s doctors, she now needs only physiotherapy and rehabilitation at this stage while they try to put her on a drug trial six months later. In Dr Aparna’s opinion, “It’s just convenient for [Shaima] to want to stay on in a hospital that has treated [her] like a princess.”
When Doctors Protest
On Tuesday, 12 of 13 doctors treating Eman resigned from her daily care as a symbolic sign of protest against the backlash they felt they were unjustly facing from a family they have treated as esteemed guests.
Dr Aparna Govil put out a strong post on Facebook explaining her resignation which soon went viral, along with photos of Eman looking significantly thinner and healthier. She now weighs 171 kilograms, and doctors have cleared her for sitting on a regular passenger flight and travelling back home. Shaima, however, disagrees.