Eman with Dr Shamsheer Vayalil, Dr Shajir Gaffar and other staff of Burjeel Hospital, when they visited her at Saifee Hospital in Mumbai where she underwent the initial surgery. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: By early next week, Eman Abdul Atti, purportedly once the world’s heaviest woman, will be medically evacuated to VPS Healthcare’s Burjeel Hospital, Abu Dhabi, for further treatment, therapy and rehabilitation, according a top official from the hospital.

Sanet Meyer, director of VPS Healthcare’s Medevac (medical evacuation) division, told Gulf News from Mumbai: “This is a humanitarian mission and we are committed to it. This will be a complete bed-to-bed transfer of the patient and we are finalising all the logistics on either side as well as air-borne facilities required for the patient to make this journey.”

On Thursday morning, Dr Shamsheer Vayalil, chairman and founder of VPS Healthcare group, arrived in Mumbai’s Saifee Hospital with a complete medical team from their hospital in India, Rockland and medical specialists from Burjeel Hospital Abu Dhabi, to assess the situation and chalk out a plan of action. The team consisted of several Intensive Care Unit (ICU) intensivists, therapists and paramedics who conferred with the team of Saifee Hospital where Abdul Atti underwent the gastric bypass surgery on March 7 and finalised the arrangements to be made to transport her in an air ambulance to Abu Dhabi.

Speaking to Gulf News over the phone from Mumbai, Dr Vayalil said: “I am very happy to be able to assist Eman in her journey of good health. Our hospital team was the first to offer her the bariatric surgery and airlift her to Abu Dhabi from Alexandria, Egypt. So I feel a connect with her and am committed to this humanitarian mission to provide a new lease of life to the patient.”

Following the well-publicised disagreement between Abdel Atti’s sister Shaima Selim and bariatric surgeon Dr Mufazzal Lakdawala who carried out the surgery, Selim had appealed personally to the VPS Healthcare officials to help her sister. Selim, sounding happy and relieved, told Gulf News in a telephone conversation: “The issue turned critical as Dr Lakdawala summoned me in front of the Egyptian Consul-General for India, Abdul Khalil, to tell me that my sister would be discharged soon and will have to continue the treatment in Egypt. He had promised to take care of her until she lost all excess body weight and was able to walk. However, I was alarmed as I have no means to care for Eman in Egypt. I was compelled to make a call to Dr Vayalil pleading for help as he has known the case all along. I am very happy now that my sister is in safe hands and will receive good care in Abu Dhabi.”

Dr Shajir Gaffar, VPS Healthcare CEO for Dubai and Northern Emirates who had accompanied the delegation to Mumbai, told Gulf News; “Ultimately, it was not a question of Eman shedding some weight, it concerns her complete rehabilitation until her health parameters are under control and she is able to resume her normal life. We are committed to this and see it as part of our corporate social responsibility.”

There is controversy surrounding the real weight of the patient. Selim says the medical team of Saifee had not really weighed Eman before and therefore could not say with surety that her weight was near about 500kg. If Eman had indeed lost nearly 300kg in one month, then she would be able to at least sit up in bed unassisted. “Right not, that is not the case,” said her sister Selim.

Mayer, the director of medical evacuation overlooking the transport arrangement for Eman, added: “Saifee Hospital doctors have said the patient’s current weight is 171kg, so we have to take their word. We are working out the logistics according to it. Only when she is on our hospital premises in Abu Dhabi and we weigh her will we be able to definitely know her real weight.”

Mission Eman

It will take over six hours for Eman Abdul Atti to get a bed-to-bed transfer from Mumbai to Abu Dhabi aboard a special Boeing Business Jet (BBJ), an aircraft in the 737 series that has the capacity to ferry anything between 22-50 passengers.

Sanet Meyer, director of VPS Healthcare’s Medevac (medical evacuation) division, told Gulf News that her team was looking at the issue from three different phases. “The first phase is the ground logistics of transporting the patient from Saifee Hospital to Mumbai airport and from Abu Dhabi airport to Burjeel Hospital. We are in the process of working that out.”

Abdul Atti will be placed on a specialised stretcher meant for patients who undergo bariatric procedure and transported in a special ambulance to the Mumbai airport.

“We will hoist the patient on a high-loading system from the stretcher onto the door of the aircraft to be wheeled inside,” said Mayer.

A team of nine specialists comprising ICU intensivists, therapists and paramedics will accompany her. The aircraft will be equipped with all emergency and ICU-related equipment such as a defibrillator, ventilator, oxygen cylinders, ICU medicines and so on. With the pilot and other crew and other attendants, Mayer estimated that about 13 people would be accompanying the patient.

“Eman will continue to be on the high-nutrition liquid diet being given to her via a feeding tube and we will take utmost care to keep her stable and safe until she is transported to Burjeel Abu Dhabi to continue her treatment,” said Meyer.