After living in a state of blindness for nearly seven years, acid attack victim Renu Sharma, 26, can finally hope to get her vision back.
Fortis Healthcare had offered to treat her for free after the Hindustan Times published her heart-wrenching story on January 14.
The process started with a four-hour surgery on Wednesday morning to de-seal her eyelids at Gurgaon’s Fortis Memorial Research Institute (FMRI) by a multi-disciplinary team of eye, cornea and plastic surgeons.
“Though her right eye is completely damaged, we hope to restore useful vision in her left eye. It would, however, require at least a couple of more surgeries,” said Dr Sanjay Dhawan, head, department of ophthalmology, FMRI.
Sharma was attacked by a stalker in 2006, who wanted to marry her, and due to inadequate treatment the acid had fused her eyelids shut, damaged her nose, lips and neck.
The surgeons de-sealed her left eyelid first and added mucous membrane graft from the inside of her cheeks to provide the necessary lubrication. Encouraged by the result, they operated on her right eye also that is beyond repair though.
“Now that her eyelids are open, her left eye would require either a corneal transplant or an artificial cornea, and in her right eye we’ll use an artificial eye. She will at least become independently mobile,” said Dr Dhawan.
The joining of the skin inside her eyes was very thick as a result of years of staying fused.
“Her skin, cornea and eyeballs were glued to each other. I am looking at constructing the eyelid properly before corneal transplant. It might require about four surgeries and we can extend the plastic surgery to repair her lips, nose and neck too,” said Dr Ashok Gupta, plastic and reconstructive surgeon, FMRI, who was part of the operating team.
For one-and-a-half years after the attack, Sharma was wreathing in excruciating pain, with severe wounds on her upper body. A doctor would come daily to her house to do the dressing.
“The damage was already done by the time we could take her to a proper hospital. We must have visited scores of eye hospitals, all said she was blinded for life,” said Rajni Sharma, her younger sister.
Sharma had already undergone three reconstructive surgeries at the Delhi government-run Lok Nayak Hospital for the repair of lips, chest and neck. “I had given up hope, but it seems all is not lost yet,” said an emotional Sharma lying on the hospital bed.