Letters To The Editor: In memory of Nida and Hira

DR Arif Bawany is right when in his letter he says that our press failed to remember our own conjoined twins, Hira and Nida, while reporting the case of the Iranian sisters, Ladan and Laleh (July 15). But he has got many of his facts wrong. This is just to put the record straight because Dawn was the paper which first reported the case of Hira and Nida when they were two years old and had been in the National Institute of Child Health, Karachi, since they were brought there soon after their birth in October 1992. Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto read the Dawn report and directed the government to pay for the twins’ treatment.

DR Arif Bawany is right when in his letter he says that our press failed to remember our own conjoined twins, Hira and Nida, while reporting the case of the Iranian sisters, Ladan and Laleh (July 15). But he has got many of his facts wrong. This is just to put the record straight because Dawn was the paper which first reported the case of Hira and Nida when they were two years old and had been in the National Institute of Child Health, Karachi, since they were brought there soon after their birth in October 1992. Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto read the Dawn report and directed the government to pay for the twins’ treatment.

It was the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto (and not Montreal as stated by Dr Bawany) which offered to take up the case. The surgery was performed in January and Nida died a month later. But Hira recovered and returned home to Karachi a few months later. We followed her case in Toronto where I visited her in the hospital, interviewed the neurosurgeon Dr Harold Hoffman and met her parents and the third triplet, Faryal. Our reporter managed to trace Hira a year later in Karachi where she was under the care of doctors at the AKUH. But subsequently we lost track of her as we were told that her father, Anwar Jamal, had migrated from the country.

It would be interesting to know if Hira is alive — she would be eleven if she is. When I last met her she needed to wear a helmet because of the opening in her skull for which reconstructive surgery was to be done a few years later.

Hira-17-07-2003A follow-up on Hira would be instructive. Many people were professionally, emotionally and financially involved in that case. Beginning with the nurses at the NICH in Karachi who looked after the infants for two years, to Dr Harold Hoffman and his team at the HSC in Toronto, the South Asian community in Canada which raised a sum of 263,000 Canadian dollars and the Pakistan government which paid 135,541 Canadian dollars for the treatment, the case evoked considerable public interest.

ZUBEIDA MUSTAFA

Source: DAWN Thursday, July 17, 2003