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Karachi girl with an Indian heart scripts India-Pak humane story

Ayesha Rashan, Sonabar Rashan, Dr K R Balakrishnan and Dr Suresh Rao (Left to right)

New Delhi

Ayesha Rashan, the 19-year-old Karachi girl is leaving India with an Indian heart, literally, and being at the center of a humane story ever scripted in the otherwise tense India-Pakistan relations.

Ayesha’s heart transplant at a Chennai hospital was done free of cost. Within hours of her story breaking out in the media, it has generated unprecedented goodwill for India her country as Pakistan’s social media is aflame with YouTubers and top-notch critics of India expressing gratitude towards the “generosity of Indian doctors.”

On Jan 31, doctors transplanted the heart of a 69-year-old brain-dead patient, flown from a hospital in Delhi on Ayesha.

Ayesha and her mother Sonabar spoke briefly to the media as the story unfolded.

Ayesha was diagnosed with a malfunctioning heart in 2019 when she came to consult Dr. KR Balakrishnan in the multispeciality MGM Hospital in Chennai. Back then her malfunctioning heart was fitted with a pacemaker.

“There was some problem with the device earlier this year and one of her heart values was leaking. So the family again brought the girl to India for treatment,” Balakrishnan said.

Dr. Balakrishnan, who is director of the Institute of Heart and Lung Transplant at the MGM Hospital, and his team, recommended a heart transplant for Ayesha.

As luck would have it, there was an alert on the availability of a braindead person’s heart and no Indian needed it that time. The transplant has to be done as quickly as possible since a cadaver cannot be preserved.

“A foreigner will rarely get a donor’s organ,” said Dr Suresh Rao, Co-Director of the  Institute of Heart and Lung Transplant.

The doctors spoke with Ayesha’s mother and there was no way she could afford the transplant surgery.

Dr Balakrishnan said the Aishwaryam Trust came to her rescue. Besides he “put in his personal finances and some patients also donated” for Ayesha’s surgery.

Balakrishnan said he had been treating Ayesha since 2019. He said he felt “She is so young and deserves to live. She could have been my daughter…”

He said, “Ayesha took time to recover from the transplant surgery and is fine to back,” Dr. Balaksihnan said.

In her weak voice, Ayesha told NDTV that “she wants to continue her studies and become a fashion designer.”

Ayesha is the only child of her single parent Sonabar. Her mother said she was full of gratitude for the doctors and hospital and very happy.

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Sanobar recalled that Ayesha was barely alive, her condition was deteriorating when she arrived in India. She says Pakistan does not have good medical facilities compared to India. “I think India is very friendly. When doctors in Pakistan said that no transplant facility was available, we contacted Dr. KR Balakrishnan. I thank India and the doctors for the treatment.”

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