Stories about hospitals in Pakistan

An open letter to the Karachiites painting the city red

Dear Karachi, Ptooey! Did you know that’s onomatopoeia? A written sound, in other words. Or more precisely, per the Merriam-Webster dictionary: “The naming of a thing or action by a vocal imitation of the sound associated with it (as buzz, hiss).” Ptooey! That’s the commonest written version of the sound that is presumably made when you spit. Why presumably, you ask. Well, because the esteemed composers of the dictionary obviously did not travel to our city prior to drafting that onomatopoeia. Why do I say that? Simple. Have you ever spat on a wall here? You don’t have to. You don’t need to. Simply look around and you will observe ...

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As her doctor, could I have done more?

My ER shift started in chaos. “Does it have something to do with today being Friday the 13th?” I wondered, although not really being all that superstitious. I knew it was just a momentary thought. On bed 13 lay Aleya, a 13-year-old previously normal and healthy girl, and the youngest of 13 siblings. To add insult to injury, she got ‘tubed’ (intubated), unsurprisingly, at 1300 hours. But I get ahead of myself, so let’s start at the beginning. For the past 13 days, Aleya had been running a ‘very high’ fever, not confirmed by a thermometer.  “Jism bahut garam tha,” (The body was really hot) said her 18-year-old brother, ...

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Why aren’t there any well-equipped ambulances available in Karachi?

A few years ago, my cousin passed away in Gwadar. His wife had to transport his body from Gwadar to Karachi in a Toyota Hiace because she could not get hold of an ambulance. That memory resurfaced when I heard that ambulance services were unavailable to carry the dead bodies of the martyred cadets in the attack on the Police Training Academy in Quetta. Even if one tries to justify the legitimacy of such issues by claiming that Gwadar and Quetta are ‘remote’ areas, why is there a shortage of ambulances in Karachi and in other developed cities of Pakistan? Apart from the ...

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The newest way to con passengers on public buses: Target the older women

Getting a seat in a crowded bus is a small victory that one may celebrate in their heart, but if the person seated next to you is stern looking and constantly stares at you for no apparent reason, this victory might turn into uneasiness. At that point, all one wishes for is for time to go by as quickly as possible. However, I have a way out of it; every time I sit next to someone, I give them a slight smile to the person seated next to me. Last night, while on a bus, I smiled at an old lady whom I had ...

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“Young woman, you’re quite attractive. Will you marry me?” asked the professor

It was during my student life that I heard some of the most scandalous stories involving female medical students and senior doctors. I didn’t take them seriously at first; my mind refused to believe that depravity of such magnitude existed around me. I was naïve and obviously wasn’t looking in the right places; perhaps it was because I wanted to keep believing that my fraternity was incapable of the horrors I had heard of. After becoming a part of the system, I had to eventually face reality. The stories were true. The perpetrators were seemingly normal individuals, who had happy families and multiple children. But ...

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A brainless hospital in Lahore hired a fake brain surgeon

Ms Maima worked as a neurosurgeon at one of Pakistan’s most prominent government hospitals at Punjab, Services Hospital Lahore. There, she worked on numerous patients, performing several brain surgeries for a period of eight months. One fine day, Professor Dr Rizwan Masood Butt, the head of the Neurosurgery Department, asked her routine questions during a medical round. To his alarm, she failed to answer properly. You see, Ms Maima, who had been working on the brains of patients at Pakistan’s second biggest hospital for so long, was actually a fake. Yes, this fake brain surgeon had outsmarted all the brainless people ...

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For the apple of my eye

On August 22, 2013, I was blessed with a healthy baby boy, Yahya Waqas. He was perfect in every sense of the word. The apple of my eye, the joy of my life, everything I could ever dream of. He was a beautiful baby, my little miracle when I least expected it. He made our family complete. The three of us, he, my husband and I, were totally inseparable. We laughed with him, played with him, even danced with him. He was a feisty young boy and it was during my pregnancy that I fell unconditionally in love with him and I ...

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