“If a patient with a heart problem boards my rickshaw, I refer them to Aga Khan University Hospital”
Arifullah was so moved by the efficiency, competence and compassion of the service he himself received at Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH), that today, if a passenger complains of a heart problem, he immediately refers him or her to the Hospital.
However, Arifullah was not always well enough to drive a rickshaw. He was diagnosed with a hole in his heart shortly after birth. His family is originally from Swat and now settled in Karachi. They were too poor to afford his treatment. He was an active child, so his family thought that the problem would resolve itself. By the time he reached teenage, Arifullah suffered from shortness of breath and fatigue. He realised that he could not lead a normal life or be a source of support for his family. He had to take his children out of school when he could no longer earn enough to afford their school fees.
Arifullah underwent surgery at a hospital in Karachi. Unfortunately, the surgery was not a success. Arifullah was so weak, that he came to AKUH in a wheelchair in a final attempt to save his life. He had spent all his money on the treatment for his heart, with no results. At AKUH, Dr Babar Ahmed and Dr Muneer Amanullah took Arifullah under their wing. Dr Muneer Amanullah performed corrective surgery for him. Finally, things took a turn for the better! Arifullah’s condition stabilised and he was soon on his feet. He was so touched by the caring attitude of the Hospital team that he offered to pay back in any way possible. However, the Patient Welfare Programme bore the cost of Arifullah’s treatment, enabling him to focus instead on supporting his family and becoming financially stable.
Arifullah now drives a rickshaw near Stadium Road. If any of his passengers complain of a heart problem, he refers them to Dr Babar and drives them over to AKUH!
“This is my way of paying back and continuing the chain of kindness,” he says.