Yemen national cured of rare disease

A Yemen national with an uncommon disease has found cure through surgical intervention at the city hospital.

Ahmed Othman, 32, began to lose sensation in his hands and limbs a few months after he felt a slight numbness in his right arm. Ahmed, who worked as a security officer at a hospital in Aden, was looking forward to his marriage when he suffered gradual loss of mobility, confining him to a wheelchair within six months of the first symptom.

An MRI scan of his spinal cord revealed that he suffered from intramedullary cervical spine tumour (which grows within the spinal cord).

As the problem worsened, he developed difficulty with balance and coordination.

“Those were testing times for the family,” says Riyadh Othman, who tried all possible means to get quality medical treatment for his younger brother in Yemen. However, specialised treatment in the strife-torn nation was almost non-existent.

Things began to look up when Riyadh got in touch with a health practitioner who was an acquaintance of Rajesh Vijayan, Superintendent at SUT Hospital, Pattom, during the latter’s short stint with the Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders), an international humanitarian NGO.

“The healthcare network in Yemen was in a shambles, prompting his family to explore the possibility of seeking treatment facilities in India where many hospitals, particularly those here, provided quality and much economical treatment when compared to those in other countries. However, they had to face a delay of around four months in reaching India, by when Ahmed’s medical condition worsened,” he said.

After he was admitted to SUT Hospital a month ago, a team of neurologists led by senior consultant neurosurgeon Ajith R. Nair and assisted by others, including neurologists N.S. Navas, Abu Madan and anaesthetist Sushanth Balakrishnan, conducted a successful 10-hour surgery.

The procedure, involved the simultaneous use of multiple monitoring methods, including Surface Sensory Evoked Potential (SSEP), Motor Evoked Potential (MEP) and direct waves (D waves).

“Despite the disease being a benign tumour, the surgery is highly complicated when compared to the procedure adopted for extramedullary spine tumours. The failure to ensure early diagnosis and treatment could lead to severe respiratory difficulties, resulting in the patient requiring ventilator support. Following its removal, the disease has a very low chance of a recurrence” Dr. Nair said.

With the help of physiotherapy sessions, Ahmed is now able to walk with the help of a stick or walker.

He was discharged from the hospital on Monday. They will now return to Yemen.

“This trip has changed our lives for the better. We hope to return to India with our families sometime soon,” a visibly relieved Riyadh said.

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