A British grandmother from Wolverhampton has returned to the UK after a successful bypass surgery in Delhi at a much lower cost, yet another testimony to India's burgeoning medical tourism.
Mavis Childs, 67, waited for more than two years to have the surgery on the National Health Service (NHS). But she opted for India when the operation was cancelled, which meant a further six months of chronic pain.
Childs, based in Wombourne, near Wolverhampton, says she traveled to the Apollo Hospital, New Delhi, because her local hospital had let her down. Her medical bill came to just under 5,000 pounds, which is a fraction of the cost of having the operation in the private sector in Britain.
Mavis, who has three children and four grandchildren, was first diagnosed with heart problems in May 2003. At the New Cross Hospital, Wolverhampton, she was found to have a blocked aorta, which restricted blood flow to her legs.
Mavis was in severe pain and could not walk more than 20 yards.
"I had a medical procedure in September 2004 but this wasn't successful, so they decided that invasive surgery was needed," she told the Sunday Mercury.
"They warned me that it would be three-month wait for a bifemoral bypass and since Christmas fell within that time, it would have to be January 2005.
"I had the heart scan in January and assumed that within weeks I would be having the operation.
"But, instead, I got a letter in March saying my operation wouldn't be for another three to six months.
"I then received a letter at the beginning of August scheduling it for Sep 1 - but on Aug 14 I had a further letter canceling it."
A consultant had decided that her condition was not life-threatening so could not justify taking priority over other patients.
In desperation, Mavis contacted a medical centre in Kenilworth, Warwickshire, which sends British patients to India for treatment.
"I did not want to wait any longer," she said. "My husband and I hadn't had a holiday for three years because of my condition and we just wanted it done - so I gave them a call.
"It was quicker and cheaper than having the operation done privately here.
"The quote came through on Sep 22. I accepted it on 23rd and I flew out to India on the 29th.
"We didn't do a single thing. The centre arranged the visas, flights - everything.
Mavis, who flew to India with her husband Ken, 69, said that they had never considered private treatment as an option in Britain because they knew they could not afford it.
"We paid less than 5,000 pounds, minus the cost of the flights, for the treatment. We have been told that the same care would have cost as much as 25,000 pounds in Britain.
"I can walk anywhere now. The Apollo staff was excellent. I had eight doctors attending on me and the hospital itself was immaculate. "I was in my own private room for two weeks and then had a week in a hotel so that I was nearby for when my stitches were cut."
Mavis, a retired wages clerk, thinks that it is wrong for people to have to go so far as India for treatment. "From my experience I think the NHS is good in emergencies," she said. "But if you have to go on a waiting list, you can wait forever and a day."