Mumbai, April 28 (Samaa TV): Pakistani hockey legend Mansoor Ahmed, who had appealed to India for a medical visa to get a heart transplant done, and two Indian hospitals had offered to provide free services, will not go to India, but will be treated in Pakistan itself at the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases in Karachi.
Earlier, the Mumbai-based private Fortis hospital had offered to perform. free of cost, a heart transplant on the World Cup winning hockey captain cum goalkeeper Mansoor Ahmed. And prior to that, the Chennai Hockey Association, had offered to give Mansoor a heart and a local hospital had received his medical records.
Fortis Group of Hospitals had offered to register him for the transplant less than a week after the 49-year-old legend made an appeal to the Indian government to grant him visa on medical grounds.
Ahmed has been a sporting icon in Pakistan since helping the country wins the 1994 World Cup in Sydney with his penalty stroke push against the Netherlands in the final.
“I may have broken a lot of Indian hearts on the field of play by beating India in the Indira Gandhi Cup (1989) and in other events but that was sport … now I need a heart transplant in India and for that I need support from the Indian government,” he said in an interview earlier this week.
Ahmed — who played 338 international matches, participated in three Olympics and various other high-profile events in a career spanning from 1986 to 2000 — said the visa could be a lifesaver.
“Humanity is paramount and I too would be obliged if I get a visa and other help in India,” said Ahmed.
Ahmed has already made it clear that he was not looking for financial assistance and all he wanted was an Indian visa on medical grounds after his doctor, Choudhry Pervez, advised him to seek treatment in the neighbouring country.
“Once he gets a clearance from the government, we can get an assessment done to confirm whether he is fit enough to travel,” Dr S Narayani, zonal director Fortis Mumbai told an Indian media outlet.
Many Indian athletes including hockey greats have shown their support for the Pakistani legend’s medical treatment in India. Former India captain V Baskaran was quoted as saying that everyone concerned “needed to act fast”.
Ahmed would have brace for a long wait even if he is granted a medical visa, as a heart can be donated to a foreign national only when there are no Indians on the waiting list.
Earlier, a day after Mansoor Ahmed sought a heart transplant in India, the Chennai Hockey Association volunteered help, and leading surgeons in Chennai confirmed they had been contacted by his doctors.
“Mansoor Ahmed’s doctors have sent me his medical records and have asked me to help. We are looking into it,” Dr K.R.Balakrishnan, a senior city-based heart transplant surgeon told TOI on Tuesday.
Dr Balakrishnan is currently in Palestine helping local doctors carry out heart procedures on children there.
As per the new rules, the hospital carrying out the transplant on a foreigner has to give an undertaking that they are not overlooking any Indian in need of a heart.
It isn’t just Chennai’s medical fraternity that is extending support to the Pakistani legend.
Former India captain V Baskaran, who has personally known Ahmed for years, said he was shocked when he read about his ailment.
“We lost touch over the years. Mansoor was very gutsy under the bar. From the time I got to know about his condition I have been trying to reach out to him through Shahbaz Ahmed, their former captain and current secretary of the Pakistan Hockey Federation,” Baskaran, who led India to gold in Moscow Olympics in 1980, told TOI on Tuesday.
“When I played hockey as a young man, I broke many Indian hearts,” Ahmed told the news channel Sports Talk, which published the video on YouTube.
He then directly appealed to India’s foreign minister Sushma Swaraj, asking her to grant him a visa as soon as possible.
Ahmed is considered a hockey legend in Pakistan. He was a goalkeeper in the national team and represented his country in more than 300 international matches.
He won a bronze medal in the 1992 Olympics and was part of the team that won the hockey world cup in 1994 in Sydney.
Ahmed added that he would like to return to India, where he had played and won many matches, and that he looked forward to meeting former India hockey captain Dhanraj Pillay, who he competed against.
(The image at the top shows former Pakistan match winning hockey goalkeeper cum captain Mansoor Ahmed lying in a hospital in Karachi)