Malaysia's health chief touts 'power of prayer' before surgery

KUALA LUMPUR (BERNAMA): Malaysia's health director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah (pix) has spoken about the "power of prayer" after an AirAsia pilot was ridiculed for reportedly asking passengers to pray on board a turbulent flight.

"The important lesson is to start an operation with a prayer and explain to the patient and familythe nature of the operation," Dr Noor Hisham wrote on Facebook.

"We should assure them that we will do our best and ask them to pray too, regardless of their race or religion."

He recalled one challenging case where he had to split a patient's sternum to remove an advanced recurrent follicular thyroid cancer which saw a blood loss of more than 15 litres.

Dr Noor Hisham said the anaesthetist had given up and he himself almost gave up too.

"But it was obvious that Allah had not given up as the patient amazingly went home after one week," he said.

"Over the years, practising as a surgeon, I've learned one important lesson we can only try our best to perform the surgery, more so when it's a difficult one," he said.

His comments came amid a barrage of criticism against the pilot of AirAsiaX flight D7237 on Sunday.

The flight with 359 people onboard was en route to Kuala Lumpur from Perth but had to return to Perth an-hour-and-a-half later due to a technical issue.

Passengers had reported saying that the Airbus A330 was "shaking like a washing machine".

One of them, Ms Sophie Nicolas said the captain asked everyone to remain seated and pray.

"He said 'I hope you all say a prayer, I'll be saying a prayer too and let's hope we all get back home safely'," she said according to www.news.com.au.