This will be very long so you have to read from the beginning until the end because I will document everything and say things the way they are without mincing words.
My name is Ikechukwu but you can just call me Iyk for short. I’m an entrepreneur from Nigeria. My mom has spinal stenosis problem which is presently being taken care of in India.
India was not my first choice, but I decided to come to India because when the desirable is not available the available becomes desirable. My first choice was the United Kingdom or Isreal because they are more developed, advanced and organized than India that is still a developing country. But to get a medical visa to UK you need a support letter from a UK hospital. I contacted 10 hospitals in the UK only 5 responded and none agreed to send me this support letter.
Anyways I tried applying for Israeli visa, searched online and within few hours Lisa Kurztag, Medical Consultant of Herzliya Medical Center (www.hmcisrael.com) replied and gave me the most info I need to apply for a visa. To get Israeli visa you need to pay $4,000 bond for each person traveling, so I and my mom will deposit $8,000 just for bond and I was told the money will be returned to us if we return to Nigeria. That’s very risky for me because I don’t know if this hospital is really existing or not. Also, Lisa Kurztag told me that if I don’t send the visa application within few days that the Nigerian embassy will be shut down for one month for some celebration, maybe its Easter celebration or something else I don’t know but she said the embassy in Nigeria will be closed for 1 month. My mom’s condition doesn’t need all these unnecessary waiting so I decided to take her to India so her health can be sorted ASAP before its too late.
So I searched Indian hospitals online, contacted about 5 hospitals in India and they all replied within 24 hours unlike UK hospitals that took 2 days to reply and only a few even replied.
Choosing a hospital in India wasn’t easy for me because I don’t want any mistakes. I know that God is the giver and taker of life but I also know that in good hospitals the chances of mistake is minimal. So I choose Indraprastha Apollo Hospital New Delhi over Fortis and other Indian hospitals because Appollo Hospital seems to be the best hospital group in India, that is judging from my online research.
Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals (JCI USA accredited) is one of the oldest and most prestigious multi-speciality tertiary acute care hospital in India. With 52 specialties under one roof, Apollo Hospital is one of the most sought after destinations in Asia for healthcare).
Another reason I choose Apollo Hospital Delhi is because the Orthopaedic Surgeon that will handle my mom’s case, Dr. Yash Gulati seems to be among the best in India. Online reasearch shows that he has the following national Awards in India.
- Padma Shri National Award by president of India
- Dr. B.C Roy National Award.
- Hon. Surgeon to President of India (2016)
PROFILE OF THE TREATING DOCTOR (DR YASH GULATI):
DR. YASH GULATI
Specialization: Orthopaedics and Spine
Department: Institutes of Spine
Location: Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi
Qualification: MBBS, MS (Ortho), Mch(Ortho) England, Dip Sports Medicine Dublin
Fellowships / Memberships
Indian Orthopaedic Association (IOA)
Association of Spine Surgeon of India
Indian Arthroplasty Association (IAA)
Indian Society for Hip & Knee Surgeons (ISHKS)
Delhi Orthopaedic Association (DOA)
South Delhi Orthopaedic Society (SDOS)
Indian Medical Association (IMA)
Delhi Medical Association (DMA)
Indian Federation Of Sports Medicine (IFSM)
Delhi Medical Council (DMC)
Awards and Achievements
Awarded Padma Shri by President of India.
Commendation from President, Indian Orthopaedic Association.
Commendation by Delhi Orthopaedic Association.
‘Romesh Chander’ Best Doctor Award for his Service to the Elderly.
Commendation Award by International President of Lions Club.
‘Chiktask Ratna Award’ given by Akhil Bhartiya
Swantrata Lekhak Manch.
Awarded ‘Distinguished Service Award’ by President New Delhi IMA, New Delhi on Doctor’s Day June.
Commendation Certificate from Aligarh Muslim
University for teaching Spinal Surgery to Teaching
Faculty in Orthopaedic & established Spine Surgery.
Commendation certificate from Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh, for Teaching.
Best Paper Award, Annual Orthopaedic Conference, Delhi.
The above CV/awards is what gave me the confidence to treat my mom at Apollo Hospital.
Once I chose Apollo over other hospitals, I contacted Apollo team via whatsapp/email and requested for Support Letter to enable me to apply for a Medical visa from the Indian embassy in Nigeria. Within 24 hours the support letter was sent to me, so I booked our tickets and departed to Abuja.
As we landed in Abuja I went straight to the Indian embassy in Abuja because my mom was in pains so I didn’t want to waste any days without achieving something. We got to the embassy around 1pm and was told the embassy closes at 12noon, I was so depressed that we have wasted one day without achieving anything but I didn’t give up. I started talking to the touts that hustle around the embassy premises, most of them are from the Northern part of Nigeria, they told me that they can give me the phone number of the Indian High Commissioner maybe if I am lucky he could let us in. So I called the commissioner on phone and explained that my mom is in serious pains and we need to get her visa ASAP, he told me embassy was closed, I begged, pleaded and he said anyways if I have proof that we came from Owerri today that he will let us in, I told him yes i still have our plane ticket/boarding pass so that was how we were let into the embassy. Before going into the embassy I had already filled the visa forms and I also have all the required documents which included bank statements showing you have at least 5 Million Naira in your account, consent letter from my bank showing that the bank account is really mine, court affidavit to proof relationship between me and my mom, isn’t that ridiculous? We share the same surname so I don’t understand what further proof they need. Maybe those touts at the embassy use these documents to extort money from unsuspecting individuals but they told me that the embassy will not accept our application without these documents.
So as we got into the embassy, we paid the visa fees, did biometrics and was told to call the next day to see if a visa is ready. I called by 3pm the next day and was told come and our visa was stamped, so we are now ready to travel to India.
I contacted my travel agent, she told me Emirates is 890,000 naira for a return flight for me and my mom. My wife went to Emirates website and got it cheaper at 795,000 Naira. I’m sure we would have got it cheaper if we were traveling in a months time but there’s no need to waste any further time in Nigeria. We spent 2 nights in Abuja, then departed to India the next day via Dubai.
The flight from Nigeria to Dubai was smooth and we were fed very well. We landed in Dubai in about 7 hours later, waited 5 hours before catching the next flight to New Delhi, India. The flight time from Dubai to India was less than 4 hours. We landed at Delhi International Airport, waited about 30 minutes for immigration stamping/clearance. After the immigration cleared us we met a lady that said she came from Apollo Hospital which was very nice. Before I left Nigeria I informed Apollo Hospital that it was our first time in India so we will like them to pick us from the Airport which they did. From the airport, they took us straight to International Lounge of Apollo hospital. I was made to fill up forms and made some payments to see the consultant. Then we were allowed to go to our hotel, but they didn’t let me go to the hotel I paid online before coming. I paid to lodge at EMBLEM hotel but they took us to HC GRAND hotel telling me that EMBLEM Hotel is not among the hotels they work with which is a lie because the hotel list they sent me before I came EMBLEM HOTEL was clearly written there, so I don’t know why they didn’t let me lodge there.
The next day we came to the hospital, we met with the consultant, Dr. Gulati. he asked us a couple of questions like when did the problem start, any history of diabetes, etc. Asked mom to lie down and point the areas that she’s feeling pain. He used some instrument to check areas mom is feeling numb etc. He requested for the medical results and scans from Nigeria which I gave him but I told him to do their own scans and test to be sure which he agreed.
So I paid all the fees for scans and blood tests, the results came out 2 days later including the MRI scan, then we met the consultant again. After reviewing the MRI scan Dr, Gulati said there is no doubt that mom needs a surgery, but he is considering if there is no need for screws. I told him it is his profession so he should decide. He said that he will leave the option open until the surgery day, that if its necessary they will use screws but if its not very necessary he will not use it. I asked if this will do the job he said he has a feeling it will do the job. Dr. Gulati said he will admit my mom on Monday and do the surgery on Tuesday.
So I went to the billing department, got the bill, paid for everything including use of screws etc.I forgot to mention that a guy that works at Dr. Gulati’s office mislead me about payment of the bill. he told me that they accept Indian rupees but when I was paying they told me they cant accept more than 100,000 Indian rupees in cash that I MUST pay the rest in Dollars. Vikash who happens to work at Dr. Gulati’s office misled me into changing most of my money from USD to Indian rupees. so now I have to buy dollars again which cost me more money but I had to do it because no time to waste.
So on Monday, we were admitted at the hospital, we were sharing one room with another patient because my mom refused to stay in a private suit, she said its ok to share room with other patients so that it will be easy to have access to nurses and doctors in cases of emergency.
I know how risky spinal cord surgery is so I was always praying and I was very scared but i didn’t let my mom know how scared I was because I needed to be strong boost her own faith and confidence. To be honest on Tuesday morning when the medical team came to take mom to the OT it was very difficult for me to let mom go with them because I didn’t know if I was gonna see her again. Its one of the hardest things I ever did. I just prayed and said mom you will come go to the theater and back alive, healthier and better and she said Amen. I forgot to mention that when we were admitted on Monday different doctors came to ask questions. This one will come and say I am Dr. this from that department, I want to ask a few questions, any drug allergies, any history of heart disease, diabetes, any implants etc. I answered no to all the questions. They told us to wake up by 5am because they will take mom to the OT by 6am. So as early as 4am my mom was already awake, praying like she always do. In my heart I was telling God to please answer my mother’s prayers and let the surgery be successful without any complications or regrets.
Immediately they took mom to the OT I left the hospital, rushed to my hotel room and started praying. My prayer was for a successful operation without any complications. While I was praying a strange number called me saying he was calling from the surgery room and that I need to identify myself first bc he has information for me. My heart skipped, I thought it was bad news. I was shaking like a baby. I told him my name etc then he said they are about to start the surgery and that it will last 5 hours. Jesus I removed my underwear, this time I was behaving like I was mad. Rolling all over my room, woke up few hours later and went back to the hospital.
They told me the surgery will last 4 hours but it was already 6 hours and no news. 7 hours later I gathered courage and called the surgeons office, Vikash the surgeons assistant told me Mr. Tony I have good news for you. Your mom’s surgery was successful and she’s now in the waiting room according to International best practice. After surgery we monitor the patients for few hours, if everything is okay they will go back to their room otherwise they will spend few days in INTENSIVE CARE UNIT (ICU). Menhh I started praying again.
God answered my prayers despite my shortcomings, my mom came out of the operating room alive and since few days now she has been going to the washroom without my assistance, I thank God. We were discharged from hospital 5 days after the operation even though Dr. Gulati wanted to discharge us just after 3 days. I told him I paid for 5 days and I don’t need to rush mom back to the hotel room bc I cant manage any emergency situation.
In one of the papers, they gave us the stitches will be removed after 10 days but when we visited Dr. Gulati 2 days ago for check up he wrote on a paper that the switches have been removed? I wonder why he would remove the stitches in 7 days instead of the 10 days they wrote on a paper. I confronted Vikash about it he said Dr. Gulati made a mistake that he cannot remove the stitches in 7 days. Then while I was buying medicine at the Pharmacy I met Bhawna a Pharmacist and Madhushree who introduced herself and being in charge of all international patients. I told them that he came to the hospital for the doctor to dress mom up but the doctor removed the stitches, he said the Doctor knows better I shouldn’t worry. Anyways tomorrow is the 10th day so I will find out if the stitches were removed or the Dr. wrote “Stitches Removed” by mistake.
One thing I have found about Dr. Gulati is that he doesn’t have time for his patients. Each time we are in his office he rarely spends up to 2 minutes with us. He sounds bossy and harsh. For example, on Monday after we were admitted he came to see mom and he said so tomorrow is the operation. I don’t think we will use the screws, I said okay sir as long as the problem will not come back again he said: “IF YOU LIKE I WILL JUST OPEN UP THE WHOLE PLACE”. That statement was a bit harsh and scary, how can you open up the whole place? Maybe you are saying the truth, but why not say it in a polite way, I am not a surgeon, this is your field, but at least explain the situation to us in a way that we will understand.
Another thing they didn’t do is tell us the advantages of the surgery or what to expect or the risks. I haven’t had any surgery before but from what I’ve read online a surgeon will tell you the risks, advantages etc of a surgery before proceeding. Nobody discussed such things with us, maybe that’s their standard at Apollo or maybe it’s not necessary. Maybe he is bossy because he is a rich, famous doctor like many locals have told me that Dr. Gulati is a celebrity doctor.
I will close for now because its already past 12 midnight here and we will have to be at the hospital in few hours time. I will continue this blog on daily basis throughout our stay here. I will try and upload all the pics and photos tomorrow.
This Discharge Certificate was given to us on March 30th
This FIT TO FLY CERTIFICATE was given to us on Friday, April 13th, 2018.
Dr. Gulati told us to return to Nigeria eventhough I complained that all the other hospitals in UK and Israel I contacted prior to our visit to India said one cannot fly by air after spine surgery until after 6 weeks. Hopefully Dr. Gulati knows better than those other hospitals.
I am very happy that my mom can smile again after being in pain for so many months. I thank The Almighty God for making this possible, so many people do not wake up after spinal cord surgery and considering my moms age too. Indeed God is THE GREATEST.
Here mom insisted that she must take some photos with Dr. Gulati because we will be travelling to Nigeria within 2 days time.
Since my mom is now getting better and can go to the wash room unassted, I decided to go shoppping and I spent less than 3 hours because I know she will worry if I stay out for too long. She stil thinks that im a small boy lol. Anyway one of the Apollo Hospital drivers took me to this shop. Its opposite Lotus Park, they sell everything here ranging from human hair, shoes, clothes, 100% hand made carpet, bags etc. In one of the shops I told them I want Indian suits only since I already have many Italian suits back home. So they made these suits for me in that shop, it took them 5 days to make from the day I paid.