So far, six patients who have been referred to India are pending since the lockdown of India in March this year.
According to the Medical Superintendent, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH), Dr Gosar Pema, the patients needed to be referred to India since they required major operations and they could not be treated in the country.
Usually, patients who need major operation are referred to Kolkata and Vellore in India.
The Medical Superintendent said that referral centers in these places are not accepting the patients because of COVID-19 pandemic.
However, he said that out of six referral cases three of them need immediate treatment for urgent treatment. “If the pandemic continues and if the lockdown in India is not lifted, we are looking at the possibility of referring the three patients nearby at Guwahati.”
He mentioned that the rest of the patients can wait and do with medication out here.
“The patient who requires immediate treatment is suffering from abnormal ballooning of blood vessel in the brain and needs operation in the brain,” said the medical superintendent. The patient is a 42-year-old male.
He said that if the operation can be done and is accepted by the hospital, the patient will be send to Guwahati. For now, the patient is treated by controlling blood pressure and administering medication.
The second patient is a 26-year-old male having growth in the stomach.
He said the patient needs needle biopsy and this facility is not at the JDWNRH. It can diagnose what type of cancer he is suffering from and then treatment can start.
He said the patient had bleeding before but bleeding has stopped now with medication.
The third patient is a 10 months old baby suffering from heart disease. However, he said that this cannot be done in Guwahati and needs to be done in Kolkata. “We are looking into the possibility of sending to Kolkata via road,” he said.
The remaining three referral cases are suffering from blood cancer, which is called Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) and these patients can wait; all of them are children.
“These patients have started treatment out here in consultation with the TATA medical center in Kolkata. These patients will be referred when the COVID-19 situation improves,” he said.
However, medical superintendent said that before sending patients requires acceptance letter for treatment from the hospital, acceptance from the hospital that the patient and escort will be under quarantine in the hospital during the treatment period, certificate of COVID-19 test results for patient and escorts and certificate of fit and fly.
He mentioned after furnishing all the information, the documents will be sent to the foreign ministry which will seek clearance from the relevant authorities.
He said that the Government of India as given special permission for patients that need to be referred to India, though they have restricted travel through land and air.
He said that patients will be sent only if it is urgent because the chances of contracting COVID-19 are very high. In most of the countries, elective surgery is postponed and only the emergency surgery is done.
He mentioned that in the meantime they are also exploring options for the three blood cancer patients-if they can be treated in Durgapur hospital at Kolkata.
Two Bhutanese kidney patient referrals who need to do kidney transplant in Vellore are postponed right now. Except for a few, most of the patients undergoing treatment outside have returned to the country.
Dechen Dolkar from Thimphu