LAHORE - Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif departed for London on an air ambulance of Qatar Airways yesterday morning.

After a brief stay at Doha for refuelling and change of air and medical crew, Airbus A-319-133LR/A7-MED departed for London and landed at Heathrow Airport on Tuesday night.

Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif and Dr Adnan Khan also accompanied the ex-PM in the high-end air ambulance equipped with a fully functional and staffed intensive care unit (ICU) and operation theatre (OT). A team of doctors and paramedics was on board headed by an Intensivist. Doctors also conducted blood tests of the ex-PM prior to the departure.

PML-N leaders and workers gave a warm send-off to their leader on departure of his convoy of vehicles from Jati Umra and on arrival at Hajj Terminal where well-equipped air ambulance was waiting for air travel to London via Doha, Qatar. PML-N leaders including Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal and former defence and foreign minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif gave a send-off to the ex-PM at Hajj Terminal.

Ex-PM’s mother Shamim Akhtar, daughter Maryam Nawaz, who surrendered her passport for securing bail in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case earlier this month, and other family members bade him farewell at Jati Umra residence.

Party workers showered rose petals on vehicle of Nawaz Sharif and chanted slogans in favour of their supreme leader. After the air ambulance took off from Hajj Terminal, party workers prayed for the safe journey, early recovery and long life of Nawaz Sharif.

The ex-PM, who has been diagnosed with an immune system disorder, will be examined by doctors at Harley Street Clinic in Central London. After detailed checkup, he (the ex-PM) will be taken to Boston, the USA for further diagnosis and treatment.

Nawaz was recommended by doctors to go abroad as his condition continued to deteriorate despite treatment. On October 21, he (ex-PM) was rushed to Services Hospital from National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Regional Headquarters where he was under investigation in Chaudhry Sugar Mills case after his physician raised an alarm over drastic drop in platelet count. After remaining under treatment at Services Hospital for 17 days, Nawaz was discharged and shifted to High Dependency Unit (HDU) set up at his Jati Umra residence on November 6.

Special Medical Board headed by Services Institute of Medical Sciences (SIMS) Principal Prof Mehmood Ayyaz was also provided assistance of panel of vice chancellors of medical universities and known hematologist from Karachi Dr Tahir Shamsi. Nawaz health conditions witnessed ups and downs during his stay at the Services Hospital with fluctuation in platelet count, high blood pressure, sugar and kidney related complications. High steroid doses helped increasing platelet count but at the same time causing other complications like blood pressure and sugar.

As his condition remained unstable, the SMB advised treatment of the ex-PM abroad. Though the ex-PM was already on bail, he could not travel abroad due to health condition and presence of his name on exit control list. The federal government allowed the ex-PM to go abroad with condition of submitting Rs7.5 billion indemnity bond. Shehbaz Sharif filed a petition with the Lahore High Court that later allowed Nawaz Sharif to go abroad on submitting affidavit and not the indemnity bond. Last Monday, the interior ministry issued a notification in compliance with the court orders, paving way for departure of the ex-PM to the UK.