Patients suffer as major hospitals suspend elective surgeries

Idrees Ahmad Dar, 40, from Anantnag is bedridden for last three years, suffering from kidney, bladder and urinary tract disorders. The doctors have suggested him to undergo three surgeries – nephrectomy, urethroplasty and kidney transplant.

He lives in a rented accommodation in Bakshiabad locality of the town along with his wife, 2 year old daughter and elder brother.

“We somehow managed to arrange money and were planning to go for surgery early this month. But to our ill-luck all planned surgeries have been deferred due to Covid19 pandemic,” says Ata Muhamad, who will be donating his kidney to the younger brother.

He says his brother’s condition is deteriorating day by day.

The only source of income for the family is the meager salary Ata draws as a salesman at a local shop.

Idrees is on dialysis and other medications for the last three years which has consumed all the resources of the family.

Like Dar, there are other such patients suffering from life-threatening diseases who were allotted dates for surgeries in the tertiary care hospitals of Kashmir but are now left in lurch.

Ishfaq Ahmad of a remote Shopian village says, “My aged father is suffering from gastric cancer and was asked to get admitted to SMHS for surgery this week. But now I am being told that all the surgeries have been suspended.”

He said that his the economic condition does not allow him to go for surgery in a private hospital.

A senior doctor working in SMHS suggested that elective surgeries – colostomy; hemorrhoid; hernia, piles, gynae and other surgeries should continue as usual.

“We cannot afford to even deny chemo and radiotherapy to the malignancy patients,” he said.

Another doctor said only COVID19 designated hospitals like SKIMS Bemina, JLNM, CD hospital and the ones in north and south should deal with the infected or suspected patients.

“The other tertiary care hospitals, district, sub district hospitals and maternity, child care hospitals should function as routine,” the doctor said.

He added that some hotels and government buildings should exclusively function as COVID19 hospitals for now.

Medical superintendent of valley’s largest private-run hospital, Khyber Institute of Medical Science, Dr Showkat Shah said their hospital is flooded with patients.

“Patients who otherwise would prefer SKIMS and SMHS now come to us,” he said.

He said though the two institutes are treating surgical emergencies for now but patients are not ready to go there as they apprehend getting in contact with COVID19 patients or their contacts.

Director SKIMS, Dr. AG Ahangar, however says the institute is dealing with all emergency cases.

“Our doctors are in contact with emergency patients including cancer and tumour cases and are taking the cases on a priority basis,” he said.

Dr. Ahangar said none of their patients has gone to a private hospital.

However, he admitted, the elective surgeries had to be put on hold due to the pandemic.