For 32-year-old Iraqi woman Amira Hussain, life was restricted to the bed with most of her joints degenerated due to an acute form of arthritis. But she got hope in India after undergoing four joint replacements in two weeks in the national capital.
Amira (name changed) suffered from Juvenile Chronic Arthritis (JCA), a rare form of arthritis which affects people at a young age and leads to severe damage to joints and bones.
"This disorder is relatively uncommon which, if not diagnosed and treated on time, leads to severe disability and crippling of young individuals," Raju Vaishya, senior consultant-orthopaedics and joint replacement surgeon at the Apollo Hospital, who treated Amira, told IANS.
The patient had a history of multiple joint pains in the hips, hands, elbows, wrists and knees for the last 22 years. Severe pain, stiffness and joint deformity meant she could not perform basic tasks like walking and even sitting.
"The condition of her joints was so bad that leave alone walking, she could not even move her legs because of degenerated hip joints and needed assistance even for the most basic daily routine," the doctor said.
But Amira underwent four surgeries last month, replacing her hip joints and elbows in two weeks. She was discharged by the third week. The replacement of both hips was done on the same day.
The entire procedure cost her nearly Rs.10 lakh ($19,340).
Vaishya said the patient is able to walk now with her new joints.
"She could not even move her legs earlier but she started walking barely within a week of the operation," he said.
Vaishya said Amira is now back in Iraq and would come back for replacement of some other joints.
The exact cause of the disease, which is also known as childhood arthritis, is not known yet.
The doctor said: "Surgery in young patients is complicated because you cannot subject them to repeated surgeries."
He added that he has seen a constant increase in the number of young patients coming for joint replacement.
"There has been a constant increase in the number of young patients coming for joint replacement surgery," he said, adding that "the biggest problem is that such diseases are not diagnosed on time, leading to more degeneration".
The doctor said joint replacement surgeries in India are at least five to 10 times cheaper than in the US or Europe.
"Not only the expenditure on hospital fee but other things too are lesser in India; the joints are also cheaper in India even though they are all made in the US," said Vaishya.
He added that nearly 5,000 foreign patients come to India for joint replacement surgery every year.
(Anjali Ojha can be contacted at email@example.com)