Pakistani student battles against deadly brain disease in China

(Xinhua) 09:38, March 03, 2022

Photo provided by Tianjin University on Oct. 11, 2021 shows Ali Hasnain on the wheelchair surrounded by his teachers and classmates at an airport in Beijing, China. (Tianjin University/Handout via Xinhua)

TIANJIN, March 2 (Xinhua) -- Ali Hasnain, a Pakistani studying in China, waved goodbye to his Chinese teachers and classmates at an airport in Beijing in last November, but he may never forget them for their companion and care during his hardest moment between life and death.

In his first month of PhD studies in a foreign land, the 29-year-old Pakistani was diagnosed with a viral encephalitic caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSVI) which attacks the human brain and can result in fatal brain damage.

Hasnain started his study in China for a PhD degree in Control Science and Engineering at Tianjin University in north China's Tianjin Municipality last year. Unfortunately, he suddenly fell into a deep coma in his dormitory in the early morning of September 2021.

The emergency waked up Wang Hai, director of the university's Admission Office of International Students, the School of International Education. He rushed to the Tianjin First Central Hospital, where the Pakistani student was receiving treatment.

"He was lying on a stretcher and his body was twitching constantly. The nurses and I carried the stretcher together and ran for various examinations," Wang recalled.

After the initial diagnosis, the hospital arranged Hasnain to an intensive care unit (ICU) for further brain surgery.

"When I was shifted to the hospital by the management of Tianjin University, Chinese doctors told my family, who were in constant contact with the hospital administration, that I have a low chance of survival and that they are exploiting every single option to save my life," Hasnain said.

Tang Bowen, Hasnain's counselor and teacher from the university's school of international education, came to the hospital almost every single day and helped update the boy's parents and university of his condition.

With the help of an interpreter, Tang made video calls to Hasnain's family. "His father was really sad and sighed again and again. I also felt bad for the potential loss of such an energetic young man."

Suggested by the Chinese doctors, Hasnain's family recorded some videos and voice clips that they could play for him in an effort to wake him up.

Wang also helped to hire a full-time nurse to take care of Hasnain. "Hearing that Hasnain's family was facing some financial difficulties, the university provided necessary support in his treatment and nursing."

A silver lining finally appeared after Hasnain underwent some major surgeries.

On Oct. 20, 2021, Hasnain opened his eyes for the first time after he fell into a coma a month earlier. "He was on his way to receive a computed tomography (CT) scan. I was pushing his stretcher in the corridor when I suddenly found Hasnain opened his eyes," said Ali Mazhar, a fellow Pakistani student in the university.

Tang immediately reported this to the doctors. "We finally see the hope after nearly one month of dark days."

Hasnain recovered gradually and was moved out of ICU about eight days later. Tang helped to arrange a video call for Hasnain and his parents. "Although Hasnain could not speak, his eyes brightened up when seeing the faces of his parents. He nodded several times in response to his family members," Tang said.

Ali Muhammad, Ali Hasnain's father, said he really appreciated the way his son was taken care of in China.

"China is like a second home for us. That's why I have sent my son to China for higher education. The Chinese side also hired a full-time nurse for him," Muhammad said.

"Besides providing huge financial support, they (the Chinese side) are still in contact with us and always inquire about my son's condition or if we are facing any financial problems regarding treatment," he added.

As Muhammad would like to have his son back in Pakistan for further recovery under the companionship of his family members, the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Pakistan arranged the flight as soon as possible with the help of Chinese teachers.

Wang, Tang and Mazhar sent Hasnain to the airport in Beijing together. "He sat on the wheelchair and sent his sincere gratitude to all of us. I still remember him waving goodbye to us with a cotton hat on. The hat was a goodbye gift from me," Wang said. 

(Web editor: Xia Peiyao, Liang Jun)


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