Carrying a price tag of Rs 1.1 million, AKUH’s unique pacemaker saves a life


In the first of its kind procedure in Pakistan, doctors at the Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) successfully implanted a heart rhythm monitoring device – an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) – in a 14-year-old girl from Balochistan.
A press release issued by the AKU Public Affairs Department on Tuesday claimed that it was the first-ever experiment conducted by the AKUH experts to install the device in a child.
Naila Bugti was born with Long QT Syndrome (LQTS), a rare hereditary disorder of the heart’s electrical activity which causes irregular heartbeats leading to fainting, seizures or even cardiac arrests
Talking with Pakistan Today over the telephone, Naila’s father Rafiq Bugti said the AKUH management charged the Rs 1.1 million for installing the device and saving his daughter’s life.
A small battery-powered pacemaker with additional features, an ICD is placed in patients at risk of sudden cardiac death due to irregular heartbeats. It monitors and identifies abnormal heart rhythms before restoring the normal rhythm of the heart.
The last paragraph of the AKU statement, however, stated: “AKUH Karachi is a not-for-profit, 577-bed teaching hospital committed to providing the best possible options for the diagnosis of disease and the team management of patient care.”
A lawyer by profession, Rafiq is a native of Dera Bugti – hometown of slain Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Bugti. He was forced to leave his town and migrate to Quetta along with his family when paramilitary forces started an operation in the area.
Naila’s three older sisters were not so lucky as they were also born with the same problem and died due to the disorder.
When Naila was diagnosed with LQTS, Rafiq started running from post to pillar to save his daughter’s life. Finally, he somehow managed to reach the AKUH, Karachi, as he had heard a lot about the hospital.
To his surprise, the “not-for-profit” organisation estimated an expenditure of around Rs 1 million for Naila’s treatment. “We have been displaced from our hometown since 2005 and it was huge an amount for me. But I did not want to see another funeral of my daughter, so I started running to different places to arrange the money,” Rafiq said.
Naila’s mother is a religious teacher in Balochistan. She approached the provincial government for help and at last the chief minister agreed to bear the expenditures of her daughter’s treatment.
Despite the assurance by the Balochistan government, the AKUH management bluntly refused to start Naila’s treatment before receiving the amount.
“We requested the provincial government to arrange the funds beforehand and we are really grateful that the Balochistan chief minister sent the complete amount to the AKUH management,” she said.
Even after charging the huge amount, the AKUH Public Affairs Department issued a press release for ‘not losing any opportunity’.
Despite several attempts, Pakistan Today could not contact any official of the AKUH Public Affairs Department, as its head Dhunmai Cawasjee prefers not to talk with the media persons herself and deputes someone else from her department to face the journalists.
An AKUH officer, on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the said amount was charged but “it was the actual price of the device in the market.”
The lead cardiologist of the case, Dr Aamir Hameed Khan, told Pakistan Today that the girl had recovered well after the procedure and the ICD is functioning optimally.
“Since Naila was a high-risk patient, we decided to implant the smallest ICD possible,” he said. “Although ICD placement in adults is not new in Pakistan, this is the first time this device has been implanted in such a young patient,” he added.


  1. Is this a report of Medical Science Development in Pakistan or about AKUH.
    Who is not aware of AKUH, their tact and fooling around with the people behind "Not for profit organization". I am sorry to say behind every misdeed in Pakistan, media is also a culprit as they get their fair share to hide the truth unless their palms are not greased. Is there any report about behavior of so called messiahs who treat people like slaves. There is a eye surgeon who does not come to clinic unless there are 20 patients are waiting for him. Similarly there is a cardiologist have same attitude, They have no respect for people's time. How much AKUH gets in donations in the name of poor people, and where do these donations go ….. these so called great supporters of humanity … comming for from first world …. come here to serve … what a service they do…. Exclusive Vehicles …. Exclusive Travel …. Exclusive service …. employees in AKUH work to please these exclusive person… rather than caring for poor patients.
    I wish world could record the words Patient Welfare Officers talk to patients seeking financial help. I wish people and donners specially open their eyes and ask AKUH where their donations are going. How much these expatriates and doctors getting in actual…. what the poor emplyees get ….

    • So this is what you take away from the article? A young girl is saved, in an operation first of its kind in the country, the government pays for it, the parents are overjoyed, but oh, oh, look at this PRIVATE hospital, charging money for it's service and the doctor asking money for his hard work. How unfair is that?

      • It is not the question of what I get from the article. I believe the purpose of article is also to highlight the working of NOT FOR PROFIT. Unfortunately we seldom get reporting against these kind of Organization. Because media people's palms are sufficiently greased. I wish you go to the hospital and try to get Welfare. You will get the true picture. You work there you will true picture. You will get to know how they exploit poor people and how they exploit their employees. In the contrast how much their executives get. They do this all claiming NOT FOR PROFIT.
        Thank you.

    • Criticizing someone or an institution is easy and its a passion of those who not help others nor let others people to help needy…any Hospital can not run without fund or donation….no staff is working there for free… they all have to pay…so no hospital can treat free of cost…

  2. RS 1.1 million ($1200) is nothing. if they were to take her to USA, UK or Canada it would have cost them between $68300 dollars and $101500 dollars plus accommodation and travel. They should thanks AKUH.

  3. mepakis = for your information 1.1 million is not 1200$ .. 1200 $ is 1 lakh and 1.1 million is 11 lakh rupees!! and in usa and canada health and education is free, if they start charging it then every one will run away frm there!!

  4. sorry 12000! In Canada Health Care is free for Canadians and for permanent residents not for non Canadians and in the US you have to have Health Insurance otherwise you will have to pay from your on pocket.

    Prescribed drugs are so expensive that you cannot buy them if you dont have any drug plan..

  5. @Khuda Ka Banda… Donations are going into people's pockets as salaries.. Imagine one is getting a package $300000 per year in Pakistan i.e a CEO in AKU or any other NGO . I do agree they should remove the Non for profit from AKUH. I tell people not to donate to big organizations. If i ever have money .. I willl go directly to poor and pay for their schooling and other expenses. I personaly know many poor people..
    I believe they will have to come up with their(10000 peoples') attractive salaries. Donations alone is not enough for their expenses so they have to make money from patients….

  6. Mr. Mepakis we can not compare Canada and Pakistan. These are total different worlds. Even in AKUH we would happily give Millions of Rupees, if they pay similar salaries here. People here get berozgari allownce, medical allownce, free quality educatio for all with same standards. And there are many more things. We have to accept the fact that This particular institue is same as Govt of Pakistan. Awam ko looto.
    They have no care fore people's life. Second thing this is unwritten fact that this hospital is not for public but for a certain class of public. Rest up to you.

  7. it was implanted to my mother also but that made many complications and she died on 17th april 2012 while treatment of meningitis due 2 cardiac arrest bcx the device didnt work properly at that time this icd is totally bull shit now i want to donate that icd to any poor

  8. Health care is free in Canada as I’m a Canadian citizen my dad got an ICD for totally free of cost, if we weren’t Canadian citizens we would have to pay $25000 for that small device but alhumdillilah we didn’t have to pay a single dime

  9. I think that the medical treatments in Pakistan are scarce – the main reason for that is money. Devices and higher end treatments cost money. The reason that the developed countries DO NOT charge for devices,etc is because of the fact that even the poor pay tax – in islam Zakat is sufficient BUT who gives it. I know we all will say "we do" – BUT I know many who dont. The reason pakistan charges for everything is that people are not sincere with it. Enough said – medical treatment costs money – however – I have to say that these cardiac devices can be obtained from device companies in the form of charities. InshaALLAH, one day these devices will be implanted at cheap costs in places where true "non-profit" management practices.

    For Mr. Aatif – Do you know what the mechanism for the cardiac arrest was – because ICD will only work in the setting of VF or VT – not PEA.

    Lets pray that the senior regime in Pakistan goes away – replaced by educated and knowledgeable people who have seen the world and can make Pakistan a developed country. Ameen

  10. We are living in a very strange system, if an undertaker ( person who digs graves ) needs money for his sick child,s treatment, he waits for some one to die, bcz then only he will get money.
    In developed countries government or insurance companies ensure proper treatment of a patient otherwise they loose money, whereas In our country doctors need a permanent attendance of patients for their own luxury survival. In this system we can have a healthy society.

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