24-year-old Waseem Hussain could not imagine that a mundane day on 28th Nov 2019 would change the course of his life. Standing on the rooftop of his house located in the suburbs of Gulshan-e-Iqbal Karachi, Waseem was changing a fused lightbulb, when suddenly, the stool he was standing on slipped. Waseem fell to the ground from the three-story building.
“Everything blacked out. I do not remember anything else at that moment." Within a few moments, he regained consciousness and felt excruciating pain in his legs and back. “I could not bear the pain. It was overwhelming." Waseem's father immediately took him to the nearest hospital. The doctors were unable to help him much there. Seeing his desperate condition and pain, his family then decided to bring him to the Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi, where they felt he would be able to get better care.
Waseem arrived at the AKUH Emergency department. The doctors immediately examined him and ran radiology tests which diagnosed he had multiple fractures in his spinal vertebra and lower legs.
Waseem recalls that fateful night at the hospital, “I could not bear the pain. Only after the doctors gave me strong painkillers was I was able to sleep that night. Those painkillers got me through that most difficult night."
Through the pain, he said, he was also worried about how they would afford care at this world class facility. “The doctors had said I would need multiple surgeries which would start my long journey to recovery. But the question was, how would we pay for it? How can I get treatment which I don't have the funds?", he recalls.
At this point, the Patient Behbud Society for AKUH (PBS), stepped in. The financial counsellors at AKUH had evaluated his case and had referred it without delay to PBS, which is an independent society that funds patient care at AKUH, using Zakat and Sadaqat they collect for this purpose.
His treatment at the hospital began. He underwent a spine operation the day after his arrival at the Emergency, followed by surgeries on both his legs. His surgeries and follow-up procedures lasted 16 days. After a painful and hard fortnight, he was cleared for physiotherapy.
Waseem started attending physiotherapy sessions at the AKUH's Sports Centre. He learnt to walk, and move his body after being bed-ridden for a month. His body was healing, but was still not ready to move around un-assisted after the surgery. Physiotherapists at the Sports Centre supervised Waseem's slow and hard return journey to normalcy in life.
“They put a belt around my waist, and I felt my back get straight after a long time. I started walking with baby steps, walking a few paces at best at a time." Waseem was given a walker to assist him in his daily movements. After grueling eight-months of intense physiotherapy Waseem no longer required the walker, and recovered completely.
“I am grateful to the people at the Patients' Behbud Society for AKUH. For allowing us a chance to get access to quality treatment, even though we could not afford it. The doctors here are experts in their profession. They guided us in a way which instilled confidence and hope."