Imran Qureshi, a 31-year-old Pakistani, underwent stem cell therapy for hip joint at a private hospital here.
"Qureshi, a garment exporter from Karachi port city, has been treated for hip bone joint through stem cell therapy by our experts at the Bangalore Institute of Regenerative Medicine," Live 100 Hospital chairman H.N. Nagaraj told reporters Thursday.
The disease, known as avascular necrosis in medical jargon, breaks the hip joint due to the cellular death of its bone tissues when blood supply is interrupted even in healthy people.
"Though total hip replacement is suggested as one of the treatments for the rare disease, our institute has pioneered stem cell therapy, eliminating surgery," Nagaraj said, presenting Qureshi as one of his hospital's overseas beneficiaries.
The treatment involves first extracting bone marrow of the patient for processing in a specialised laboratory at Pune, Maharashtra.
Subsequently, the stem cells in the bone marrow are separated from red blood cells and blood plasma and injected into the hip joint of a patient under sterile conditions.
"The transplanted stem cells restore hip joint function, which is lost due to damage to its cartilage. The stems cells also repair bone cells. As there is no surgery, there is no bleeding or scar formation in our treatment," Nagaraj said.
Qureshi, who operates also from Saudi Arabia for his garment business, had felt pain in his hip two years ago when he was in the Saudi kingdom and underwent treatment in some hospitals but to no avail.
"Six months ago, when I was back in Pakistan, the pain became acute and diagnosis revealed that I had advanced avascular necroisis. Though it is feared that alcoholism, steroid usage and chemotherapy cause such a disease, I had none of them. I felt cursed. When I consulted doctors from the world over, I learnt about use of stem cell therapy in this Bangalore hospital," a relieved Qureshi recalled.
The Indian consulate in Karachi was also helpful to Qureshi, as his visa was given in three days as against normal 15 days for Pakistani nationals.
"We provided documentation to ensure treatment in time. As consultation was done earlier, we commenced treatment soon after Qureshi arrived last month. We have given him three sessions for the treatment with physiotherapy. He will be normal in the next few months," Nagaraj said.
Qureshi hoped his treatment and recovery from a Bangalore hospital will foster better ties between the two neighbouring countries.
The treatment cost Qureshi Rs.6 lakh.
"Though leading hospitals in the US suggested surgery, I learnt about this institute through internet and consulted patients got treated here. I was convinced that I should try my luck in India. It was a hard decision, as I had to leave Karachi just two days after my daughter was born," Qureshi noted.
With proper treatment, patients with avascular necrosis can lead productive lives.
"While Qureshi will need a walker initially to move around, going forward he will be able to walk without any support." Nagaraj said.
Qureshi also appealed to the Indian government to relax visa rules for Pakistani nationals needing medical treatment in India.
"Rules for patients at the foreigner regional registration office have to be simplified and we should be given mobile connection, which are denied for security reasons so that more patients from Pakistan can benefit from the treatment as I have," Qureshi added.