New Delhi: When
Pakistani raiders were beheading Indian soldiers, a group of
Indian doctors were helping their Pakistani counterparts to do
complex liver transplants in Lahore.
The doctors from Delhi's Apollo Hospital spent long hours in the
surgery room of the Sheikh Zayed Hospital during a four-day trip
that began Jan 6 - incidentally the day major trouble erupted on
the Jammu and Kashmir border.
Unlike during the 2012 trip, this time the Indian doctors only
oversaw the "right lobe adult-to-adult living donor liver
transplantation" on one woman and two male Pakistani patients,
conducted by their own doctors.
"It is a highly complex operation and involves removing liver mass
from the donor," doctor Subash Gupta, who has led the Centre for
Liver and Billiary Science at Apollo Hospital since 2001, told
"The Pakistani doctors were doing the operation, we were only
helping them," he said.
Pakistan has one of the highest cases of liver diseases, and
scores of Pakistanis come to India for treatment. Gupta said
Delhi's Apollo Hospital has played host to over 400 such Pakistani
patients in the last eight years.
Since many Pakistani patients are not able to travel to India for
more reasons than one, Indian doctors at times get invited to
Anaesthetist K. Lalitha, one of the five doctors in the Indian
team, said the three Pakistani patients they oversaw included a
woman, whose liver donor was her son, and two men.
The Indian doctors spent about 10 hours on the first day Jan 6,
finishing an hour after midnight.
The next two days also consumed long hours though the Pakistani
surgeons spent far more time on the patients.
Both doctors said the Pakistanis they met were very warm.
"People were very nice (to us)," Gupta said. "Those we met, the
doctors, the nurses, no one really wanted any war with India...
They also said that the country was facing major (internal)
Lalitha recalled that in the hotel they stayed, the singer
entertaining the guests was belting out popular Hindi film songs,
including those of the legendary Kishore Kumar.
"Virtually all the requests to him (by Pakistanis) were for Hindi
songs," she said. "You would forget that you were in Pakistan. It
was like we were in some 'mehfil' (musical soiree) in Delhi."
Although her mother-in-law suffered major heart trouble just
before the trip started, Lalitha kept her Lahore schedule because
her absence would have caused problems. A veteran, she has been an
anaesthetist since 1984.
The Indians returned home, via the Punjab land border, Jan 9 - a
day after two Indian soldiers were killed and beheaded near the
Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistani troops.
The brutality has outraged India, and sharply escalated tensions
on the LoC, which divides Kashmir between the two countries.
"We hardly read the papers there, and we did not know anything
about the beheading," Lalitha told IANS. "It is all so sad."
Trouble or no trouble in Kashmir, Pakistani patients will keep
coming to India, and Indian doctors will keep getting invited to
"I feel happy with what we have contributed," said Gupta.
"Eventually they (Pakistani doctors) will get going. As for us, we
did what we did for humanitarian reasons."
(M.R. Narayan Swamy can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)