Saturday May 28, 2022

‘500 patients to receive free implants at NICVD this year’

By our correspondents
May 09, 2017

The management of the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) has announced that from this month onwards, life-saving implants would be provided to patients at no cost, giving individuals with weakened heart muscles ‘artificial stabilisers’ that could help them lead healthy lives.

“We have started providing Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators (ICD) free of charge to patients whose lives are in danger due to weak heart muscles. The ICDs, depending on the model and functions, cost anywhere between Rs700,000 and Rs1.75 million, but we have not charged a single penny from patients since May 1,” NICVD Executive Director Professor Dr Syed Nadeem Qamar told a news conference on Monday.

An ICD is a battery-powered device placed in the chest or abdomen and is used to treat various heart conditions. Accompanied by renowned cardiac electrophysiologists Professor Syed Zahid Jamal and Assistant Professor Dr Ghazala Irfan, the executive director said that this year, the hospital plans on implanting ICD devices in at least 500 needy patients.

Qamar claimed the NICVD was now the world’s first hospital to provide ICDs and perform the implants for free. “This is not done anywhere else in the world, not even in the United States or Europe,” he maintained, “We are becoming a completely free of charge cardiac centre, among the rarest in the world.”

An estimated 10 to 15 percent of patients admitted to NICVD suffer from ‘cardiomyopathy’, a condition that brings about arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats) and requires patients to have ICDs for survival, Qamar said. In the past, he added, doctors at NICVD would treat sufferers of the condition with medicine only, as they believed that the patients would not be able to afford the treatment.

Responding to a query, the executive director said the programme was being financed jointly by the NICVD and the Sindh government and hoped that in the days to come, more facilities and treatment options would be offered to patients for free.

Professor Jamal said he was euphoric for several days when he learned that the hospital would be implanting the expensive devices to patients for free. “You can’t imagine what I used to feel when I would send such patients home, knowing that their hearts would soon stop beating because they could not afford the devices,” he said. 

He added that in the past, patients could not imagine receiving such treatments from a public sector hospital.

Echoing Qamar and Jamal’s views, Dr Ghazala said she was also delighted that needy patients were getting this treatment free of charge. She added that the entire process, which includes the ICD device, the implant procedure, the post-op care, and the replacement of batteries and other fine tuning of these devices, would be performed at the NICVD at no cost to patients.