Thirty-three year old Sanaullah, from a village in Nawabshah, was brought to the University Hospital in a serious condition. Feeble, extremely malnourished and weighing only 35.5 kilograms, he could barely lift his head. On the very first day at the hospital, the treating doctor walked up to his bed and declared, “Only a committed dietician can save this patient.”
Sidra Raza, AKUH Karachi’s dietician was with the doctor, part of his team on their regular morning rounds. “These words stuck in my mind. A look at the patient made my heart ache and I immediately took up the challenge,” explains Raza.
After being treated for acute necrotizing pancreatitis at another hospital, Sanaullah fell into deep depression. He could not swallow anything and would vomit even after a sip of water or a bite of food. He lost weight rapidly.
Raza’s first step for Sanaullah’s recovery was to develop a friendship and inspire trust in him. “After a day’s counselling, Sanaullah finally agreed to talk to me,” says Raza. At this time, Sanaullah was so weak that he could hardly speak a coherent sentence.
Diagnosing the acuteness of his problem, Raza started visiting the patient 10 times a day – as opposed to a routine visit once every three days. Committed to nursing her patient back to health, she took it upon herself to set his diet for each meal, taking great pains to incorporate Sanaullah’s likes and dislikes for different foods. She visited him after every small meal. On the fourth day of Sanaullah’s stay, Raza added food supplements to his diet.
She worked with Sanaullah’s family to help them understand the importance of a good diet and how to feed him; but they could not manage. Finally she was left with no choice but to take physical charge of her patient. “When it was time for him to take a supplement, I would visit him, lift his head, and help him drink the supplement.”
Soon, Raza’s care showed results. Sanaullah started to gain weight. He would now wait for Raza to tell her that he had finished his last drink just to make her happy. Two weeks later, Sanaullah was on his feet. Supporting himself on a walker, he smiled, pointed towards Raza and said, “You are the reason I’m walking today. Your care did wonders.”
Under Raza’s continuous vigilance, Sanaullah continues to thrive. His weight is now 40 kilograms, a remarkable increase. “My doctor says I’m a poster patient; I’m looking good, nothing to worry about.”
Raza managed to get different companies and pharmacies to provide the dietary supplements – literally a life-saver for Sanaullah day – at discounted prices. To help him further, she also bought him other supplements.
And despite his limited financial status, Sanaullah sent Raza 2,000 rupees as eidi. “I spent the entire money buying his medicines,” says Raza emotionally.
“If Ms Sidra hadn’t paid close attention to me, my health would not have improved as it has,” says Sanaullah. “I now call her on a daily basis and tell her that I’m following the diet she has told me to.”
“He needed love and extraordinary care and I’m happy to have given him just that,” says a satisfied Raza.