The Eman I knew...

Friday, September 29, 2017
the eman i knew...
Dr Aparna Govil Bhaskar with Eman at her home in Alexandria

My heart was pounding at more than 120 beats a minute as she was lowered in a crane from the balcony of her house. Our eyes met for a fleeting second and it was she who silently reassured me. As the first ray of sunshine fell on her face, she broke into a smile. I will never forget that expression. Eman knew how to live.

My tryst with Eman began on January 29, 2017. 4,500 miles away, on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, in a distant suburb of the historical city of Alexandria lay a woman weighing almost 500 kg. Bedridden for more than 3 years, Eman had not moved out of her house for decades. Blessed with a great sense of humour, she was the heart and soul of her family. There was an unmistakable twinkle in her eyes and she exuded a quiet confidence which was infectious. All the anxiety and stress that I had built up in the weeks prior to travelling to Egypt evaporated within half an hour of meeting Eman. That day I saw a "patient" who despite being extremely sick was willing to take that one chance at survival that had come across her way.

As I spent more time with her, the “patient” gradually transformed into a “person”. Eman was a popular girl in her neighbourhood. There would be visitors almost every afternoon and she loved to listen to all the gossip and chatter. They would come and just chat about this thing or that, just regular stuff. She was her mother's favourite daughter and her nieces never tired of giving her bear-hugs. She had this remarkable quality of drawing people to her. Everyone loved Eman.

In the days to come, Eman was an important part of all the discussions regarding her treatment plan. As a doctor, it was an amazing experience for me to see that someone as sick as her, was willing to fight. For me, this is what made Eman special. She didn’t want to give up.

The Egypt Air cargo flight landed in Mumbai airport at 3.00 am on February 11, 2017 with Eman, her sister and the team of doctors ......and the rest is history.

Today, Eman is no longer with us. Since this morning, I have relived every moment that I spent with her, again and again. I am sure the other team members must be feeling the same. As I have said before also, we had fallen in love with Eman. She was very special to all of us. Even after she left for Abu Dhabi, she was always in my thoughts and I often prayed for her well-being. I felt happy, whenever there was some news about her and she looked beautiful in the pictures that were shared. She had become a beacon of hope to millions of obese patients who were reluctant to seek treatment.

I am sad today but at the same time I feel very proud of Eman. She was one of the bravest people I have ever known. There is a lot to learn from her. Her zest for life was unmatched. It didn’t matter whether she could move or not, her eyes were always full of life. Nothing could stop her from dancing, being bed-ridden was just a minor hitch. She would smile, she would cry and sometimes she would get so angry that she threw stuff at her sister. But the best thing about her was that she never lost hope and probably that is why she became such a world-wide phenomenon. Eman inspired people.

As a doctor, she taught me one of the most valuable lesson... "Doctors are not God". We always have the best interest of our patients in our hearts. But, at the end of the day, we may win some and we may lose some. My heart may be heavy today but we cannot give up on any patient. Every life in this world is equally important and we must always try our best because everyone deserves a chance. Whatever the odds may be, we can aspire to win only if we choose to fight.


Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker was part of the team of doctors who went to Alexandria to bring Eman to Mumbai. She was also one of the key doctors who treated her at Saifee hospital. She is presently a bariatric surgeon with Global Hospital, Mumbai



A very inspiring story.

Yogesh Gupta    2017/09/26 03:39:29

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