SIUT Offers the Gift of Life
By Suraiya Rasheed
Los Angeles, CA


Dr Syed Adibul Hasan Rizvi

A few years ago I received a call from Houston, Texas. Someone wanted me to meet his friend, a kidney specialist and a surgeon. “No please, can you bring him some other time; my house is in a shamble and my kitchen is being renovated”. “Don’t worry; we can stay in a hotel,” he said. I met Professor Syed Adibul Hasan Rizvi (Sitare-Imtiaz, Hilale- Imtiaz), at the airport and took him directly to the hotel. I felt awful but there was no choice. Dr. Rizvi is an incredible man. He left the luxuries of the West and returned to Pakistan to dedicate his life in serving his people. With the help of a few devoted physicians and surgeons like himself he established the Sind Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT) in a small wing of the Civil Hospital in Karachi. Today this unique institution is bubbling with charismatic enthusiasm and dedication of several hundred physicians, surgeons, scientists and technicians who provide state-of-the-art clinical services FREE OF COST to people in need regardless of race, color, creed or financial status. Thus, all diagnostic tests, treatments for urologic diseases, kidney transplants and life-long dialysis are FREE to all patients. These unusual approaches of clinical care in a “developing country” sound unreal and mind-boggling until skeptics like me go to visit this beautiful “GEM” in the middle of the old town and witness the meticulously clean, modern laboratories equipped with up-to-date instruments and highly efficient professionals and staff to serve the community --- with no questions asked! I was flabbergasted when I spent several weeks at SIUT to train physicians/scientists in high-tech HIV-related diagnostic tests and gave a series of lectures and seminars on the molecular biology of cancer and AIDS. It was heart-warming to see that people were “thirsty” for new knowledge and the auditorium was always full, no matter what time of the day the lecture was. For a few weeks I forgot I was in Pakistan! SIUT is second to none.

An opereation in progress at the Sind Institute of Urology and Transplantation

This institution serves annually >400,000 patients with chronic kidney diseases including treatment of urologic cancers at NO COST TO THE PATIENT. Kidney diseases are common throughout the world and millions of people are affected by urological diseases globally. An important aspect of kidney diseases is that there are no symptoms in the early stages and people do not feel sick. In Pakistan, over 20 million people suffer from a variety of kidney disorders and approximately 200,000 patients die annually because of lack of facilities or an infrastructure to diagnose these diseases at early stages (i.e. before it is too late). A healthy kidney is essential for maintaining the whole body in good physical condition as it contains millions of minute filters called nephrons which clean the blood by removing the waste products that would otherwise accumulate and damage not only the kidneys but other healthy organs of the body as well. Although some kidney diseases could be hereditary (i.e. associated with genes we inherit from our parents), most kidney-related problems arise owing to accumulation of too much protein, toxins (poisons) or sugar in the body that cannot be cleared because of diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension) or other problems. It is therefore critical to diagnose the kidney disease early because patients with kidney diseases are at risks for heart attack, stroke and related disorders. To minimize the risk of kidney failure the blood is filtered through a machine by a process called dialysis.

Emergency Ward at SIUT

When the kidney fails (i.e. stops working completely), the best option is to have a kidney transplant. However, most often people have to wait a long time to “match” for a recently died person or a living donor usually, a relative to donate the kidney. Transplantation of a donor kidney is not a difficult task; what is most challenging is to maintain the donor kidney in a healthy state since the body refuses to accept the foreign organ. The transplant patients are therefore given special drugs so that the transplanted kidney is not rejected by the immune system. These medications are very expensive (even in this country) but SIUT provides all medicines, life-long dialysis and rehabilitation programs for patient recovery at NO cost. This is important as many transplant patients can lead a good life for 15-20 years after the kidney transplant. In addition to kidney diseases, more than six million people in Pakistan suffer from chronic liver diseases and liver transplants are not done in the country. Dr. Rizvi and his team carried out the first liver transplant at SIUT on a young patient who came from a small village in Azad Kashmir where healthcare is scarce. Professor Rizvi continues to excel in his strivings. A couple of years ago Hanifa Sulaiman Oncology Center was established for the treatment of kidney and urological cancers. Dr. Rizvi believes that Continuing Medical Education (CME) programs with lectures and hands-on training for doctors, nurses, medical staff and technicians are essential for upgrading the clinical care and for utilizing high-tech molecular tests for more accurate diagnosis of various diseases. SIUT also serves as a humanitarian Hub. It was the first organization to respond to the national emergency of earthquake in Muzafarabad NWFP. Within 52 hours, SIUT established five centers close to the earthquake affected areas. In addition to establishing operating theaters, SIUT opened a diagnostic/clinical laboratory because adequate facilities were not available at the neighboring hospitals. Dr Rizvi himself was there in the front line and mobilized a 25-member team of general physicians, surgeons, nephrologists, intensive care specialists, anesthetists in addition to the nursing staff and technicians so that each center could operate optimally. After the NWF earthquake, SIUT continued to provide special training to physicians and surgeons to cope with emergency situations since they had not faced this kind of urgency before in the past few centuries. SIUT is the only institution that I am aware of, which has accomplished so much with so little. Over the years many physicians, scientists and other professional from all over the world have visited Professor Rizvi’s “brain-child” and witnessed the scrupulous operations of modern, up-to –date laboratories, clinics and the way patients are cared for. Today SIUT is recognized worldwide as one of the most “unique” institutions. Says Dr. David van Thiel, Professor of Surgery, Loyola University Medical Center, Illinois, USA: “The Institute and its staff are the pearls of the Asian sub-continent. It has provided the most modern and effective technologies that exist in Urology and Transplantation.” A testimony of global commendations by the world-renowned physicians, surgeons and other dignitaries who have personally witnessed the dedicated services provided by numerous doctors, surgeons, nurses, laboratory technicians and other medical staff at SIUT can be seen at the Website: www.siut.org or www.siut.org/free_services.html Dr. Adib Rizvi’s personal involvement facilitates all physicians, nurses and medical staff to work together in harmony, with no bureaucratic controls. He is an exceptionally unique individual. To enhance awareness among the Pakistani community, a Houston-based charitable organization, SIUT North America Inc. was established in 2000. The SIUT LA Chapter is a satellite volunteer organization to help SIUT in maintaining the high standards of patient care and medications that are distributed FREE TO ALL PATIENTS. The SIUT LA Chapter has organized a fund–raising event on December 8, 2007 at the Shalimar Garden Restaurant, 221, W. Holt, Pomona, CA 91768 (909.865.8826). The Honorable Consul General Pakistan will honor us by his presence and deliver the inaugural address Several renowned physicians and experts have been invited and there will be a general lecture on kidney and related diseases. Finally, it is important to note that the sole purpose of this event is to help SIUT maintain the high standards of care that it has achieved over the years. This would not be possible without the generous gifts and donation from people who care. Remember, the best gift is to promote the health and well-being of fellow human beings. Please give generously to this noble cause. Thank you. ALL donations are tax deductible. Annual tax returns and the Tax Exempt ID# are posted on the website: www.siutna.org. For further information, please do not hesitate to send your email to siutlachapter@hotmail.com For further information you could call the following volunteers: Qaisar Madad/Dr. Meher Tabatabai: (909) 860-0646 Rafat Khan: (626)-256-7894 Chand Sultana: (626) 447-9054 Iqbal Kolsy: (714) 744-1600 Abubakar Vakil: (909) 614-1401 Farhana Mohamed: (323)254-3513 Suraiya Rasheed: (626) 797-8189 or (323)-224-7415

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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