Tariq Khusroo traveled to India in 2016 on vacation. He had been thinking of undergoing a hair transplant when he saw ads for Dr. Khan’s Hair Transplant Centre. The Centre had good recommendations so he decided to have the procedure before returning to Saudi Arabia for work.
Unfortunately, it was the last time he would be able to see with both eyes.
Not long after the surgery, Tariq developed complications that resulted in him being sent to the hospital. The trip to the hospital ended with the loss of his right eyeball.
In January of this year, the Telangana State Medical Council found Dr. Ishratullah Khan, the doctor who performed the hair transplant, guilty of negligence. Dr. Khan was barred from performing hair transplants until he receives the proper qualifications to perform the surgery and he registers with the Council.
While Dr. Khan’s bio on the Centre website lists his qualifications as being a member of the Asian Association of Hair Restoration Surgeons and the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery, he only has a MBBS degree which is an undergraduate, first professional degree in medicine. This means he does not have any sort of required certification to perform hair transplant surgery.
According to Dr. Sungjoo "Tommy" Hwang, MD, PhD, FISHRS, the President of the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS), there are limitations to checking hospitals online. Dr. Hwang says, “Hospitals that advertise more often are highly exposed online and patients tend to think such hospitals are good hospitals. But, that's not always true. It is important to meet the doctors in person, talk to them and listen to their opinions. It is necessary to ask other doctors for feedback and listen to your doctor's reputation. Plus, I think we need an additional step to figure out how many years the doctor has done hair surgery, what other cosmetic surgery he does with hair transplant surgery, what his specialty is, and so on.”
In addition, Dr. Sharon Keene, Fellow and Past President of ISHRS, says “A doctor can be highly qualified as a plastic surgeon, or other specialist, but have little or no experience in hair restoration medicine and surgery. Patients have a right to know a doctor’s level of experience and should inquire how long a doctor has been performing hair restoration surgery, what type of training they underwent to learn the techniques, do they know both methods of donor harvesting, how many patients has the doctor operated on and whether the doctor actually performs the surgery themselves. Some doctors advertise their own ‘excellent’ credentials, but then delegate the procedure to technicians who have no medical license, or medical expertise, to be making a clinical judgment at all!”
Tariq says he started to develop complications within 12 hours of having the surgery in July 2016. Tariq told the doctor he had swelling in his eyes and head but was assured the conditions would subside. Soon after the swelling became apparent, he was not able to properly breathe, move or eat.
He was eventually rushed to the hospital and found to be infected with “necrotizing fasciitis”. This condition results in the destruction, and eventual death, of the soft tissue of the body. The condition affected the skin muscles in his eyelid, scalp and eye and he was having trouble breathing. Within a week, the doctors at the hospital removed his right eye to prevent an infection from reaching his left eye. Tariq spent two months in the hospital where he had to undergo ten surgeries.
Dr. Khan was found guilty of professional misconduct due to:
When asked why patients travel overseas to visit doctors they have only read about online, Dr. Hwang says “patients tend to believe in the story of the people around them. I think that people have a tendency to believe the words of others, without suspicion, when they hear that someone got an operation there and that the results were good.”
Dr. Keene urges patients to be aware of the differences in medical training and healthcare standards between countries such as the United States and third world countries. She added “The largest difference I am aware of is the enforcement of standards. Some countries have very strict standards but it doesn’t matter if these are not enforced.”