NEW DELHI • An Egyptian who is believed to be the world's heaviest woman is to fly to India for weight reduction surgery after the country's foreign minister personally intervened to secure her a visa.
Indian surgeon Muffazal Lakdawala had offered to carry out the procedure free of charge after hearing about Ms Eman Ahmed Abd El Aty, who weighs around 500kg.
However, her request for a visa was initially rejected, prompting Dr Lakdawala to tweet a request for help to India's foreign minister Sushma Swaraj.
"She is a bundle of diseases. She needs surgery urgently," the surgeon said of Ms Abd El Aty, 36, who is expected to fly to the western city of Mumbai next week for the procedure.
"Her sister said she hasn't left her room in 25 years. I just thought, 'Oh my god, I have to help. I'll do it pro bono, no problem'."
Dr Lakdawala said he was astonished when Mrs Swaraj, who is herself in hospital awaiting a liver transplant, replied to his plea within hours. Ms Abd El Aty's sister had approached him about two months ago, saying her sister needed urgent medical attention.
Her family told the doctor that as a child she was diagnosed with elephantiasis, a condition that causes the limbs and other body parts to swell, leaving her almost immobile.
Later, she suffered a stroke and was rendered bedridden, triggering a series of ailments, including diabetes, high blood pressure, hypertension and sleep apnoea.
Dr Lakdawala, who has operated on ministers in the past, said he was nervous but would do all he could to make her comfortable.
"I would be lying if I said I was 100 per cent confident. There are many challenges, but I will try my level best to help her," he told Agence France-Presse by phone.
Ms Abd El Aty would need a couple of months in post-surgery care in India before heading back home in Egypt, he said.
Bariatric surgery is essentially a stomach-shrinking bypass procedure carried out on those wanting to lose excessive weight.
It is increasingly common in India, which has a growing problem with obesity, particularly in urban areas. India is a key destination for medical tourists because it offers quality services at a fraction of the cost of Western countries and no waiting lists.
The heaviest woman ever recorded in history is Ms Rosalie Bradford, an American who claimed to have weighed 544kg at her heaviest in January 1987. She died in November 2006.
The current official record-holder is Ms Pauline Potter from Sacramento, California, who tipped the scales at 291.6kg on May 13, 2010.