A Fresh Start at 52
Patrick Victor looks thoughtful when asked how he’s feeling. “It’s a miracle,” he states simply, “I could not have imagined a bigger miracle.”
Patrick had been employed with Aga Khan University in the Transport Department for over 20 years when he was told to go for a mandatory health check-up. “I had been suffering from blood pressure and blood sugar problems for a while, and had been having knee problems,” explains Patrick, “Walking had become more and more painful over the years. I couldn’t even cross the road without asking a passerby for help. I can’t explain how unbearably painful my knee joints had become. I couldn’t move without taking painkillers.”
Patrick had been discouraged about knee surgery by people around him who told him of experiences where such surgeries had made things worse. “I was scared, and I had to think of my family and our financial situation. I could not risk becoming bedridden and unable to work,” says Patrick.
The doctor who examined Patrick was shocked by the state of his knees. “The doctor informed me very clearly that there was no way he could clear me for duty unless I got the go ahead from an orthopedic surgeon. He referred me to Dr. Noordin,” remembers Patrick.
Dr. Shahryar Noordin is an Associate Professor and Service Line Chief in the Orthopaedics department at Aga Khan University Hospital. “He recognized me and instantly put me at ease,” says Patrick with a smile. Patrick was sent to get an X-ray which was a complicated procedure as he was unable to place his legs and knees together for the X-ray. “The technicians had to tie my legs together to get the position right,” recalls Patrick.
Patrick was told by Dr. Noordin that the only solution was to operate on both knees. “I was terrified. The doctor reassured me and told me I would be fine if I followed his instructions for three months following the surgery. I placed my trust in the doctor entirely,” recollects Patrick.
Dr. Noordin explains, “It was very advanced arthritis; to the extent that bone was rubbing on bone. This is an indication that a surgery needs to take place. The kind of knee we would be placing in Patrick is what we call a “young knee”. It is a highly cross-linked polyethylene which means you can easily sit cross legged on the floor and move flexibly.”
Patrick was told the treatment would cost about Rs. 1.3 million. “I felt like an electric shock passed through me. I knew I wouldn’t be able to pay even 15% of this amount. I come from a financially disadvantaged background; I live in a house on rent. I could not even pay back a loan. That’s when I was told to go to the Patient Welfare department,” says Patrick.
The team at the Patient Welfare department in Aga Khan University were helpful and told Patrick they would help with the treatment cost. “Anyone, even those who are impoverished can come to AKUH for treatment – Christians can receive help from the Patient Welfare department, while Muslims can additionally receive financial help through Zakat,” Patrick continues.
“The next few days after the operation were tough and painful. The hospital staff was amazing. They were kind and caring and looked after me like I was a child. Five days after the surgery when I went home, I was able to climb the stairs in my house to my bedroom on my own with no support from anyone,” says Patrick proudly.
He continues, “I got the operation done when I was 52 years old. The doctor has told me if I am careful, my knees can last 25 years. Today I feel young and fresh. For me it was a dream to walk effortlessly like other people can. This dream came true and I have been given a new lease on life.”