Dubai: Two Dubai-based doctors have taken a vow to give back to society and help the underprivileged and the sick from Asia to Africa with free medical camps, surgeries and in many cases even subsidised prosthesis.
Travelling to places like Somaliland, Nigeria and the remote mountainous regions of India such as Kargil, Dr Azam Badar Khan, specialist orthopaedic surgeon, and Dr Talakere Usha Kiran, consultant gynaecologist and obstetrician, both from Prime Hospital, Dubai, have made it a mission to serve the needy and poor.
Eight knee replacements in a day
In the first week of October, Dr Khan took a trip to Somaliland and conducted eight total knee replacements in a single day for underprivileged patients who were unable to travel to other countries owing to the pandemic. Speaking to Gulf News, Dr Khan said: “Patients in Somaliland, many of them from the interiors of the country, usually travel to India for knee replacement surgeries. However, this year has been very challenging for most. Unable to travel, many were in pain and waiting for me to conduct these surgeries.”
Helping the needy for free in other countries has been the brainchild of Dr Khan who has been involved in such medical camps in India and many African countries. He recently enrolled the services of his colleague Dr Kiran who accompanied him to Leh–Ladakh in last September. In less than a week’s time, the doctors furiously worked at the district hospital of Kargil in Ladakh. There, Dr Khan set a record of sorts, conducting nearly 20 knee replacement surgeries in two days, while Dr Kiran attended to pressing gynaecological issues plaguing several women in the region. She conducted six surgeries — including the first laparoscopic surgery of the district — and five other open surgeries.
Describing his mission, Dr Khan said: “I want to inspire other doctors as well, to take time out from their busy schedules and make an effort for such outreach in the remote areas of the world, where people have no access to medical facilities or where the medical know-how in regional hospitals is at a basic level.”
Dr Khan is all set to visit Nigeria soon to conduct knee replacements before this year ends.
Standing by the poor
The doctors first identify a region, then reach out to the right people there, study their requirements, informally raise funds for medical supplies, prosthesis and other equipment and then offer their own services completely free of charge.
For instance, in Kargil, Dr Khan, who has been going to Ladakh since his student days, has known for long about the knee problems the villagers have. “Most villagers develop orthopaedic problems in Leh and Ladakh owing to a serious deficiency of Vitamin D at that altitude. They remain mostly covered owing to the cold and have poor absorption of Vitamin D from sunlight. Besides, their nutrition is poor and then they have to climb up and down treacherous mountainous paths every day from their fields to their homes. This results in severe wear and tear of their ligaments and patella, resulting in premature knee weakness. This time, I managed 20 knee replacements in two days. For five patients, I could manage the implants completely for free.”
Dr Khan continued: “My focus has been to provide free medical care to these villagers. In 2019, I was able to see more than 900 patients and screen 90 of them for knee replacements. This year, my camp was delayed due to restrictions over the COVID-19 pandemic. In future, we plan to continue to help poor patients by conducting free camps, raise funds for complimentary implants and pass on our knowledge to the surgeons at the district hospital. These doctors have a busy schedule and find it hard to go for training. I hope to guide and train them in new surgical procedures.”
First laparoscopy in Kargil
Dr Kiran, who is a surgeon trained in the United Kingdom, with more than 25 years of experience in India, UK and UAE, told Gulf News: “Of the six surgeries I conducted at the Kargil district hospital, one was a laparoscopic hysterectomy, where I was able to successfully extract a tumour weighing 1.75kg from a patient. This was the first time in the history of Kargil that a laparoscopic surgery was performed in the field of gynaecology. I intend to keep returning to this place and provide all the expertise to the local surgeons who are unable to travel to other hospitals for training owing to their busy schedules. This exposure will help these surgeons to conduct minimally invasive surgeries, independently, in the near future.”
She added that most of the women from villages nearby were relieved to get this medical help locally. “They have so many hardships to face and getting surgical help locally allows them the time to get back on their feet sooner. I will try to provide more specialised care at their doorsteps on my next trips,” Dr Kiran added.
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Combining charity with abiding love for adventure
Both Dr Khan and Dr Kiran nurture a deep love for adventure sports and work towards raising funds for local charitable causes in the regions they visit. While Dr Khan and Dr Kiran scaled the highest mountain of Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro, this March, the two have separately had their own bucket lists and have been ticking adventure missions on it. Dr Khan has already been to Antarctica, trekked to the Everest Base Camp. On October 15, 2021, Dr Kiran, who is a COVID-19 survivor, completed her trek to the Everest Base Camp. Dr Kiran said: “We scaled Mount Kilimanjaro in March 2021 to conquer the fear and fatigue, following the pandemic. We also raised funds for the local orphanage in Moshi village of Tanzania. And now comes my successful trek to the Everest Base Camp at a height of 5,364 metres.”
Both the doctors intend to inspire others in their fraternity with their spirit of adventure and commitment to give back to the community.