In Memory Of Another Young Martyr: How Many More?

Misbah Munir wanted to share this on Karachi Metroblog.

Dr. Yusra Khalil was our colleague: she was someone most of us had come to know, befriend and respect for the five years we spent together at Dow Medical College. She graduated with the rest of the Class of 2005 and respectfully earned her right to be honored Doctor. She got married after her bachelors. Her House Job at the Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK) started this August and she was an enthusiastic doctor working her way through General & E.N.T. Surgery. It seemed everything was great in her life.

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This was until a few days back. That is when she fell sick. Eventually, so sick that her family had to take her to the Aga Khan University Hospital (AKU). The family spent the night in the AKU emergency room: helpless. The doctors there told her family that Yusra was suspected of having a “Viral Hemorrhagic Fever”, a rare but life-threatening infection that can kill as many as three-fourths of those who catch it. Because of how infectious her condition was, nobody was eager to manage her intensively. Our colleague slipped into a coma, in desperate need of a Ventilator. What’s utterly disgusting is the fact that the AKU, CHK and every other place in the city the family contacted refused to provide a Ventilator to a patient with Viral Hemorrhagic Fever. Its only hours later that the AKU decided to provide her the service. By then it was six hours too late: she had been deprived of oxygen for too long! On Sunday night, Yusra passed away. Her family was devastated. We were in shock.

How did the young martyr catch the infection that took her life, her dreams, her everything? Nobody knows for sure. The CHK has been admitting many undiagnosed cases with vague flu-like symptoms (like our colleague’s) for the past few days. There is every possibility that she could have been exposed while at work. What’s pitiful is the fact that the doctors at the CHK work in an environment that puts them at highest risk for acquiring all kinds of serious infections; infections that are lying open in our wards waiting for the next sufferer to come into contact. Worse is the harsh reality that the administration of the CHK has not done anything to change the scenario. Even worse is the fact that when another resident died of similar circumstances a month ago, the CHK authorities only covered it up and supposedly issued a circular which none of the wards in the hospital displayed for plain view, keeping the doctors at risk in the dark. In circumstances that could have been prevented, isn’t it high time to change things?

A meeting was held on Monday (November 21) between the House Officers and the Medical Superintendent of the Civil Hospital, Karachi (CHK) at the Office of the Medical Superintendent, CHK. It was a morning filled with emotions, anger & a feeling of great loss. The House Officers put forward the following demands in the meeting:

1. That an immediate Isolation Facility be established in CHK.

2. That every House Officer and Doctor be provided with:

a. Anti-viral treatment [Prophylaxis] for the condition suspected to be the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever.

b. Surgical and Examination gloves for routine use with ready access to Post-exposure preventive measures.

c. A guarantee that they will not required to do work that is the responsibility of nurses and paramedics [e.g.: drawing blood, setting up drips and cannulas].

d. Financial / loss compensations for those affected by the condition.

3. That screening for Hepatitis B & C viruses be made mandatory for every patient admitted to the CHK.

4. That somebody should claim responsibility for this event & for any future consequences of mismanagement on the administration’s behalf; And that he be held accountable.

The House Officers of the CHK will not work to the day these demands are brought into effect.

What we may achieve might prevent another work-related incident, and, maybe, another death. It is, however, too late for our Yusra: a beloved daughter, a beloved sister, a beloved wife and a beloved colleague.

House Officers
Civil Hospital, Karachi.

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9 Comments so far

  1. Teeth Maestro (unregistered) on November 25th, 2005 @ 1:47 am

    My heart goes out to the family suffering such a tremendous loss, I know the family indirectly when today I called them up to offer condolences they were simply devastated. She had been married only a few months back, can u imagine all the happiness that was in store for her.. LIMITLESS.

    The family was presently busy getting each and every person in the family screened for the virus (some serum count test is diagnostic) Luckily no one has yet shown up as positive and turn to Allah for heloing them all through this crisis.

    May her soul rest in peace – AMEEN

  2. KHATTAB (unregistered) on November 25th, 2005 @ 5:29 am

    May Allah give her a place in heaven.And give her family sabar in this time of hardship. It is a great loss for us all. As very few girls are given a chance to work as a doctor after their education. I would urge all of those reading to make dua and encourage more and more girls in this noble profession.

  3. Zain (unregistered) on November 25th, 2005 @ 9:36 am

    Its very sad and I’ve heard that the damn doctors at AKU were unable to provide the machine to save her life.

    My wife is a dentist and she knew about what Yusra went through and how she got the virus. It was scary! God help all of us and those who are doing such humanitarian work!! Ameen

  4. Asma (unregistered) on November 25th, 2005 @ 10:27 am


    Yeah read this lette in sawn really sad … and heartfelt prayers for the family of yusra … may Allah bless her peace in jannah!

    Machines are for teh patients … and when she needed it the most she should have allowed to use it … the strike by house officers is very much right … they are right in their saying … if hospital wont cater for the need of the docs … how would they feel safe in curing infectious diseasess!!

    May allah bless them all!


  5. Dr.Misbah Munir (unregistered) on November 25th, 2005 @ 1:52 pm

    thank you jonybr for postin this up for me….
    well there have been many misunderstanding…well it wasnt that she WASNT allowed a ventilator….akuh has a number of patients lined up for ventilators and she was delayed the ventilator only because a vent wasnt available.secondly the health officials are trying to cover this thing up by playin the blame game and not taking the responsibility of the whole situation.well tomorrow a seminar has been arranged by the duhs on this viral heamorrahagic fever followed by a meeting of the house officers with the higher officials….plz pray for us and spread the word about the precautions necessary for the prevention of this disease.thank you.

  6. Heena (unregistered) on November 25th, 2005 @ 7:37 pm

    Yusra my sweet caring cousin missing you loads… came to pakistan 3 months ago just for your wedding because i made a promise to you that i would come the memories of the time we spent together il never forget…who will i sing to now that you have gone? remembering the days i followed you around…watching you have your mehndi done LOOKED GORJOUS …. you were the most beutiful bride i have ever seen i miss you loadz Rest In Peace sweety


  7. Ali (unregistered) on November 25th, 2005 @ 9:52 pm

    R prayers and thoughts for the family.


  8. Saadie (unregistered) on November 26th, 2005 @ 4:35 pm

    May Allah bless her soul and give patience to the family.

  9. Fatima Qureshi (unregistered) on December 2nd, 2005 @ 1:25 am

    I was in shock when my Mom told me about Yusra’s tragic death. I knew her through my mom, her mother is my mom’s good friend and also because she lived a few blocks from our house. I still remember how she used to wait for the college bus at Shahra quaideen (the same spot where me and my friends used to wait in the morning for the college bus while studying at Dow). Gosh! I just can’t believe she is gone!!! I mean, we all believe as muslims that one day we all have to leave this world according to the time appointed by Allah, but Yusra’s death came to me as a big shock because of several reasons. One, because she was soo young. I think not only was she a pretty, young and talented girl but she was also equally well mannered,polite and courteous. Whenever I met her, whether it was at the college, or at some party, she always had this smile on her face that clearly showed how pure and innocent she was. Another reason why her death appears to be so tragic is because of the circumstances in which she died. I read the news article regarding her death…I dont want to comment on whether its fabricated or not,I dont want to go in the details of whether there is some truth to it or not.All I believe is that Yusra died because of the viral infection she got from one of her patients. In my eyes, that is a very noble death but at the same time its really heart breaking that a doctor has to suffer that way. I wish we Pakistanis had more respect for human life and showed more remorse for such incidents.
    I wish I could do something for Yusra and her family. I am in USA, and at this point all I can do is pray for her as well as her family. My mom was telling me that Allah has given a lot of “sabar” to Yusra’s mother.I believe that Allah does everything for a reason and at times we humans are totally amazed at life’s events. Anyways, I wish well for her family and I do want everyone to know that Yusra was an intelligent,beautiful and respectful young girl. May her sould rest in peace.

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