After two successful liver transplants in Lahore, a team of doctors return to India, with `lots of love and lots of goodwill` from Pakistan.
A seven-member team led by Subhash Gupta of Apollo Hospital here along with Pakistani doctors conducted the lengthy surgeries in Lahore's Shaikh Zaid Hospital -- the equivalent of Delhi's AIIMS -- Feb 9 and 10.
The first transplant involved a sister who donated a part of her liver to her brother. This one, on Feb 9, lasted from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., a gruelling 16 hours.
In the second case, a son donated a part of his liver to his mother. This operation took two hours less.
K. Lalitha, the Apollo anaesthetist who was in the team, explained that the surgeries involved taking out a person's half or two-thirds of a liver and transplanting it on another person.
Meticulous care is needed when the surgery is on -- it involves two lives, the donor and the receiver. The Indian doctors charged no fees.
"Doctors from Pakistan trained in this wanted to start this programme," the 53-year-old Lalitha told IANS.
"They had done one transplant with help from a British team. But apparently the Brits didn't travel this time due to security reasons. So they requested Apollo Hospital," said Lalitha, who became a doctor in 1980. She added that Gupta had done many such transplants in Delhi and elsewhere.
"This was the first time we went to Pakistan. You may say it was a goodwill mission. There were competent Pakistani doctors too with us. Our team included a technician, two nurses and two assistants."
After reaching Lahore Feb 8, the transplants happened over the next two days. "In the end, both patients are doing fine, and we are naturally very happy."
The Delhi-born Lalitha -- who along with her doctor-husband N. Subramanian is a versatile singer of Bollywood classics -- is full of praise for the numerous Pakistanis she met.
"They were excellent people, beautiful people. They looked after us really very, very well."
And keeping in mind the uncertainties of Pakistan, commandos were provided to protect the Indians.
"We of course did not have much time to go around Lahore. But the people -- doctors, their families, the patients' families -- all of them gave all of us so much happiness and joy.
"I am really happy I went to Pakistan. I now want to go again, for tourism perhaps. I went there for the excitement of going to Pakistan," she said.
"We had fun. We could speak the language, the food was ours, the language was ours, Lahore was just like Delhi.
"And we were stuffed with more food than we would normally eat!"
Happy with what Gupta and his team had done for the two patients, the Pakistani hosts presented the Indian team shawls and carpets as souvenirs.
But Lalitha said the real gifts from Pakistan were not that.
"What we got in Pakistan was priceless... We got lots of love and lots of goodwill. And new friends."
(M.R. Narayan Swamy can be contacted at email@example.com)