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International Patient’s Journey for Parkinson’s Treatment in India

International Patients Journey for Parkinsons Treatment in India

Mr. Karanwga - Zimbabwe

Stem cell for Parkinson’s Disease - Dr. Dharma Choudhary

My name is Karanwga and I live in the country Zimbabwe. My country is not so advanced when it comes to medical technology and this was my main concern when my doctor said that I had Parkinson’s disease. It all started with a sleep disorder, which I could not correct no matter what I did. My primary physician was unable to connect the disorder with Parkinson’s at that time. However, when the tremors started and I had difficulty concentrating he was sure that I was suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. If you have not observed the life of any person with this ailment, it will be difficult to understand how life can become hell with it.

I could not hold a cup of coffee without spilling it, and my movements also became sluggish. I was no longer the active and healthy 50-year-old man that I used to be. Apart from myself, my wife was also affected by my ailment. She had to minister to me because most of the time, I could not even do every task and she had to help me with them. My primary physician suggested that I should consult a neurologist for the problem and the neurologist prescribed L-Dopa which is the only drug known to help people with Parkinson’s.

However, the drug did not suit me well and I had terrible side effects. When I conveyed this problem to my neurologist he said that nowadays there was a lot of research going on with stem cell therapy, and it was very helpful with this ailment. However, this technology was not available in Zimbabwe, and I would have to go to some advanced countries like the USA, UK etc. to get the treatment done. He said that Parkinson’s disease was caused due to the lack of proper dopamine secretion in the brain. The neurons of the brain which secreted this hormone became inactive and L-Dopa was a drug that forced the neurons to secrete more dopamine. However, as mentioned, I had severe side effects which resulted in more problems for me rather than the cure.

The neurologist said that the stem cell surgery could be done to replace the damaged neurons in the brain. There were reports of embryonic cells from aborted fetuses being implanted in the patient’s body, but there could be rejected by the body, plus there were ethical questions with this process. Instead, I should opt for a treatment in which the stem cells of my own body were made into neurons and then transplanted in my body. This would ensure that my body did not reject these cells as they were part of my own body.

He further went on to explain that everyone produces stem cells and they can be derived either from the patient’s blood or skin. These stem cells were then treated with viruses that changed their attributes and converted them to neurons or any other tissue cells. For instance, if the heart tissue became scarred due to heart attacks, then the stem cells could be made into heart tissue cells and implanted in the heart to replace the scarred tissue cells.

The doctor said that I was facing side effects because the L-Dopa acted as a drug that induced the production of dopamine in the brain. But this dopamine is delivered to the areas of the brain other than the dopamine deplete striatum. This is the reason that I was experiencing hallucinations and impairment in my cognitive functions. Meanwhile, my condition grew worse and after 6 months of being diagnosed with PD, I had had enough. I wanted to get rid of these symptoms because they were affecting not just my life but the life of people around me as well.

Apart from my wife, my kith and kin were also watching the way that I was degenerating. My children especially were affected by my ailment, and they wanted their dad back in good health. Meanwhile, when I heard about the cost of going to an advanced country and getting the treatment done, I just could not afford it. I was not too old and being affected by this ailment had made me dependent on others. Although my kids were teenagers they understood the trauma that I was going through and they helped me with the daily activities along with my wife. It was my son, who is a whizz at online research, who came up with the solution to the problem.

Ever since that, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s; he had started research online. He agreed with my neurologist that I should opt for stem cell surgery. He said that the procedure my neurologist had mentioned was available in advanced countries, where my own body stem cells would be extracted and converted into neurons that produced dopamine insufficient amount. Although the procedure of Stem Cell Therapy was still under a lot of research, the technology had been advanced to the level where the patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease were being benefited by it.

The question of going to the right country for the treatment was also solved by my son Harun. He had checked on the countries which were most popular for medical treatment, and he said that India would be the right choice. This is because India has the maximum technological advancement needed for a complex procedure like stem cell surgery and the best part was that treatment in India was not expensive. We would be able to get the treatment done within our budget.

I was wondering how we would be able to find the right doctor and hospital to which Harun said that it was not a concern because there were travel agencies that specialized in medical tourism in India. Such agencies had come up because of the fast-developing medical tourism industry in the country. These agencies provided everything including the doctor, hospital and even hotel stay for the caregiver who would travel with the patient. On hearing this I felt quite relaxed and then began the task of finding a good medical tourism agency.

This search was also to be conducted online and Harun took charge of the case. He conducted extensive research and came up with 3 medical tourism agencies that he found promising. The next step was to single out one agency that we would choose for our purpose. We did not have to bother much because the first travel agency that we called was Dheeraj Bojwani- Medical Service Provider and it was the best medical tourism agency that we could hope for. When we placed the call the phone was answered by a crisp and professional lady who had a warm and empathetic voice. She said that it was a good decision to choose India for stem cell surgery because this technology was very advanced in India. At the same time, the cost of the treatment was much less compared to what it would cost in other advanced western countries. In fact, even people from western countries were traveling to India to get the surgical procedures done.

She went on to explain what medical tourism in India was all about. Then she asked us who would be traveling with me, and as we had decided as a family Harun was the right person to accompany me on the trip to India. We asked her how much time the process would take. She said that the medical visa would take about a month and then it depended on the availability of the doctor. She said that we should prepare for a month-long stay in India because the stem cellswould be derived from my body and then treated in many ways to become capable of secreting dopamine. They would then be transplanted in my brain. She said the surgery was complicated, but they had many good doctors on their panel who had excellent track records of conducting this surgery as Successful Stem Cell Therapy for Parkinson's Disease in India. We asked her who would choose the doctor from Top hospitals in India for Parkinson's Disease and she said that we would. They would give us a list of doctors and we could choose the one that we thought was best for us.

We confirmed to her that we were going to opt for Dheeraj Bojwani Consultants as our medical tourism provider. To which she thanked us and said that she would get back to us in a couple of days. Meanwhile, I was supposed to undergo some tests in Zimbabwe itself so that the doctor could get an idea of what the patient was and how he should be dealt with. Of course, there would be tests even in India, but the ones that I would do now would lay the background for the treatment. She mailed us a list of tests to be done after a period of two days and along with it, there was a list of about 7 doctors Parkinson’s treatment in India. Their pictures and detailed profiles were something that would take us a couple of days to figure out the doctor that we wanted to get the treatment from.

We pored over the doctors’ profiles and although the other doctors were also good, somehow I was convinced that Dr. Dharma Choudhary in Top hospitals in India for Parkinson disease was the right doctor for me. Then again there was the question of choosing the apartment for our stay in India because it was more economical than putting up in a hotel. The apartment would be a fully serviced one and all our requirements would be taken care of.

We decided on Dr. Dharma Choudhary top stem cell transplant surgeon in India and conveyed the decision to the lady at Dheeraj Bojwani Consultants the next day. She congratulated me and said that Dr. Dharma was indeed a favorite with people coming to India for medical treatment from African countries. He had a stellar track record of Stem cell therapy for Parkinson disease in India and till now none of the surgeries that he did had gone wrong. All the patients were healthy and did not suffer from the recurrence of the PD. She said that we should send her our travel documents so that she could apply for the medical visa which would take a month to go through. She said that she would check the schedule for Dr. Choudhary and get back to us in the evening. We eagerly waited for the call and she called up to say that Dr. Choudhary would be available immediately after one month and that I would not have to wait for any period of time, before starting the procedure.

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I was happy that the doctor that I preferred would be immediately available for my surgery. Actually, Dr. Dharma had a very kind and empathetic demeanor apart from his excellent credentials as a doctor. He was associated with very good hospitals and had a great record of successful surgeries, where many of them were medical tourists like me. The next day the lady from Dheeraj Bojwani Consultants called and asked us for our choice of apartment and confirmed that she had started the procedure for the medical visa and soon we would be on our way to India. I was looking forward to a life without Parkinson’s disease and that thought made me feel positive throughout the month-long wait.

Soon the time came, and we boarded the flight where many special arrangements had been made for my condition. This was the doing of Dheeraj Bojwani Consultants and immediately I realized that I had made the right choice as far as the medical tourism agency was concerned. We landed in India and we were picked up by a smart young man, who appeared to be quite cheerful but also professional and astute. He drove us to the studio apartment that we had chosen and made sure that we had settled down nicely before he took our leave. The apartment was very cozy and comfortable and there were all the arrangements for food, beverages etc. all in all we were settled quite comfortably. The young man said that we should have our meals on time and rest through the night as he would come to pick us up the next day morning at 10 AM. We did as advised and the next day he arrived promptly. He asked us about our level of comfort with the apartment and we said that it was just right for us.

He drove us to the hospital where we would meet Dr. Choudhary and we were impressed with the excellent infrastructure of the hospital, there was a cheerful and professional air as the hospital staff went about their way doing their daily tasks. The staff that attended to us was also empathetic and polite and soon we were ushered into the office of Dr. Choudhary. He did not appear to be too old and must be in his late forties. It was admirable how within such a young age he had earned such a reputation.

Dr. Choudhary asked us what we knew about Stem cell surgery and we told him about the online research that we had conducted. He said that even so, it was better to understand the procedure from a fresh perspective. He said that some doctors although not in India suggested the implants be taken from embryos. However, he did not believe in such a procedure and would rather take the stem cells from my own body. This would make certain that there would be no rejection of the implant and it would serve me well for decades to come. He explained the entire procedure with the help of charts and diagrams and even the laymen that we were it was quite clear how the surgery would be done.

Dr. Dharma said that I should get some blood tests done just to be on the safer side. He said that blood would also be taken from my body to separate the stem cells. He said that everyone had stem cells and it was just a matter of making them work as the neurons in the brain did. The surgery would be conducted when the time came with general anesthesia and I would have to remain in the hospital for a week to make sure that everything was going alright. In the meanwhile, the major portion of the time would be taken in the preparation of the stem cell implant that was to be placed in my body.

By now all the stress and nervousness associated with my surgery had subsided because I had faith in the ability of Dr. Dharma as a good surgeon. Hence we waited for the procedure to go through and in the meanwhile, Harun and I decided on some sightseeing. Although moving around much was difficult in my condition, it was a relief that this disability would be over within a few more days. Soon the day for my surgery arrived and Dr. Dharma had a small pre-surgery talking session with us. He prepared me mentally and emotionally for the surgery and said that the more positive I would be the chances of the success of the surgery would increase. I would be under general anesthesia so I would not be aware of the process. Harun could go back to the apartment and come back when I would be shifted to my hospital room.

As I entered the operation theater I was greeted by the support staff that would assist Dr. Dharma and they all wished me the best of luck and soon the anesthesia took effect and I slipped into a deep sleep. When I woke up I saw the faces of Harun and Dr. Dharma. The doctor said that everything had gone exceptionally well and I could rest assured that from now my life would be much easier and more enjoyable. It has been 2 years to my surgery and I am living a healthy life without any of the problems that I was facing with PD. I thank Dr. Dharma and Dheeraj Bojwani- Medical Service Provider for making life worth living again for me.

Thank You
Karanwga from Zimbabwe


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