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The Dark Hollows of Unsighted Evil

Fourteen senior citizens have stumbled into darkness in the autumn of their lives. They walked into a medical camp for eye-surgery in the want of clear vision, but they were blind in one eye when they walked out.

Published: 07th December 2014 09:22 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th December 2014 09:22 AM   |  A+A-

Patients

CHANDIGARH: Fourteen senior citizens have stumbled into darkness in the autumn of their lives. They walked into a medical camp for eye-surgery in the want of clear vision, but they were blind in one eye when they walked out. Out of the 131 patients who were operated upon at an eye camp at Ghuman village in Gurdaspur district of Punjab, 14 have lost sight in one eye. They are poor. They are all more than 60 years old. They want justice. The patients were admitted to the Government Medical College hospital in Amritsar and are undergoing treatment. Punjab Police has arrested Jalandhar-based eye surgeon Vivek Arora and Manjit Joshi, the camp coordinator.

 Jatinder Singh of Gaggomahal village wants his eyes back. He said, “They (the doctors) informed that they have set up an eye check up and operation camp at Ghuman and took us there in a bus. They have taken away my eyes, I am poor. What will I do?”

 Another patient Pyar Kaur realised that she couldn't see after her operation. “I know they have removed my eyes, I want my vision back,” she said. Yet another victim, Joginder Singh, wants strict action against the camp’s doctors and organisers. “I couldn't see anything when I was discharged. Strict action should be taken against doctors and the persons who held the medical camp,” he said. An NGO with SKM Netra Chikitsalya based in Mathura in Uttar Pradesh had organised the camp. The doctors who operated upon the patients were mostly from Mathura.

 Talking with the Sunday Standard, Principal Secretary (Health), Punjab, Vinni Mahajan said, “This is an  unfortunate incident. An NGO based in Mathura, came here to organise the camp. They went to various areas in Hoshiarpur, Gurdaspur and Amritsar and got surgeries conducted by a trained ophthalmologist who has private practice in Jalandhar. Clearly something went wrong. In the 130 eye surgeries conducted on November 4 over a period of four days, there are 20 cases of severe infection. Of these, there are 14 cases of loss of sight in the operated eye. Our first priority is to locate more patients. We have sent out teams to villages to see if the patients there need treatment.”

According to Mahajan, a three-member PGI team has examined the 20 patients. “They (doctors) have confirmed that 14 have lost complete eye sight in the eye they were operated upon. The others are still under observation,” she said.

Deputy Commissioner of Gurdaspur, Abhinav Trikha said, “Only 49 patients who got operated their eyes at the camp have been identified. Eye Surgeon of Jalandhar Vivek Arora has been arrested.” Trikha added that neither the doctor nor the hospital management had registered records except the Mathura based NGO. He said, “Neither the NGO nor the hospital had applied for an approval for this charity camp. They had not intimated the administration on the organising of the camp.”

 Medical experts say that the surgeries were carried out under unhygienic conditions and the NGO had not obtained the required permission to hold the camp. Philanthropist Manjit Joshi who hails from Phagwara had organised the eye camp. He said that he had already held four eye camps in Punjab at Tanda, Ghuman, Gaggomahal and Dera Baba Nanak. All the operations were held at a private hospital Guru Nanak Hospital, Ghuman by a Jalandhar-based doctor Vivek Arora while another doctor from Mathura-based NGO, Dr Hamver Singh checked the patients at the Gaggomahal camp. Dr Vivek Arora, said, “In this camp, my role was only to operate. Before, during and after the operation, materials and medicines used were provided by SKM eye hospital Mathura. Now, in the whole investigation, in their absence, I am accountable for all these since I have done the operation.''  The affected patients demand action against people responsible.



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