Pak-Canadian Doctor Who Spends His Holidays Volunteering At SKMCH Says He Will Continue To Do So

Pak-Canadian doctor who spends his holidays volunteering at SKMCH says he will continue to do so

NEW YORK, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 14th Jul, 2019 ) :A Pakistani-Canadian doctor, who spends his annual vacation days to volunteer at at the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital in (SKMCH) Lahore, has highlighted the specialized medical treatment the health care institution is providing to the people of Pakistan, especially the poor, afflicted with the deadly disease.

Dr. Asim Amjad, who is based in Regina, capital of Canada's Saskatchewan province, said in an interview with Leader-Post newspaper published Saturday that every time he returned from such trips, he felt he needed to do more.

"People that are treated (at the hospital) have no money. They can't even get their flu shots, let alone cancer care. So seeing them being treated like a human being and not worry about the money, where would it come from with their treatment, that draws everybody there," Dr. Amjad, the radiation oncologist, said, when asked what made him return year after year over decades.

"You can't be just sitting there and say, 'I've done my bit.' That's nothing. There's still thousands more," he said.

In his office at the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency (SCA), Dr. Amjad, according to the newspaper, tells stories of the patients he has seen at the Shaukat Khanum hospital. He recalls one five-year-old boy who fell off a swing and started feeling back pain. The boy went to a local doctor who removed a cracked vertebra, but did not run the normal tests on the bone.

"(Normally) you send it to the lab to check what was wrong with the vertebra and whatever. The guy didn't have any facilities there. It was a small place. He didn't do that. It was a cancer that caused the fracture, not the fall, so the diagnosis was missed," he said.

A month later the child started feeling weak again and began losing feeling in his legs. His parents brought him to Shaukat Khanum hospital, but his legs were already paralyzed.

"The tumour, if we hadn't done anything, that would have gone up into the brain and caused more trouble." A 24-year-old woman from Afghanistan also sticks in his memory, the newspaper said. She had cervical cancer and felt she couldn't tell anyone because of her country's conservative culture.

"(You could see) every untold, horrific story in her eyes that she couldn't tell anybody and she would cry a lot," Dr. Amjad said. "These are the people that you treat there. These are the stories that you see Every patient you could write a book on." The Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital serves not only to Pakistanis, but also most neighbouring countries patients, which have little to no cancer care. Dr. Amjad said an estimated 700 to 800 patients are looked after there each day.

Dr. Amjad, who moved away from Pakistan at age 27 to continue his medical training, said he heard about the hospital's creation in 1994 while studying in England. Ever since, he has found ways to spend time volunteering there. Each year he would spend two to four weeks at the hospital. This past year with the support of his colleagues at the SCA he was able to spend two full months in Pakistan.

Armed with equipment the SCA was no longer using his knowledge as a radiation oncologist, Dr. Amjad introduced the Pakistani medical staff to prostate brachytherapy, a type of radiation treatment for prostate cancer, according to the newspaper.

This type of radiation cuts the traditional treatment time of nine weeks down to three weeks and is able to administer the radiation more effectively to the patient, causing fewer side effects.

While back in Regina, Dr. Amjad also helps organize a fundraiser for the hospital each fall through the Cancer education Research Foundation, the report said.

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