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Doctors at AIIMS reconstruct face blasted by bullet

delhi Updated: Apr 29, 2009 00:00 IST
Rhythma Kaul
Rhythma Kaul
Hindustan Times
Doctors at AIIMS reconstruct face blasted by bullet

Satish Kumar (40) is a tough one to have survived a gunshot from point-blank range in his lower jaw. And he’s in good hands now at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Trauma Centre, where doctors are reconstructing his face.

Hailing from a small town in Moradabad district of UP, Kumar was brought to the Trauma Centre with the left side of his face ripped off. Doctors at the centre were not sure he would survive. But two weeks later, the man is on his feet.

Dr Maneesh Singhal and Dr Sushma Sagar, assistant professors of plastic surgery at the centre, have performed two life-saving reconstructive plastic surgeries on Kumar, who was brought to AIIMS Trauma Centre in a critical condition in the wee hours of April 14.

“When he reached us, the injury was already more than 12 hours old and his condition was critical,” said Dr Singhal.

Kumar’s case was so bad that local doctors in Moradabad and Meerut, where he was taken before being transported to the centre, refused to touch him.

“He had not been given even the basic life-saving treatment there and, for his critical condition, the transportation wasn’t done safely at all. He could have choked on his way to our hospital,” said Dr Sagar.

When Kumar arrived at the centre, doctors did a tracheostomy on him to open up his airway. It is a surgical procedure in which an incision is made in the windpipe to help a patient breathe properly. Kumar’s nose was damaged in the incident and that made it difficult for him to breathe on his own. The doctors also had to feed him directly through the intestines because of the damaged mouth. “We had to bypass breathing and feeding to keep him alive,” said Dr Singhal.

Gun shot injuries are considered highly contaminated wounds because of the presence of gunpowder, so doctors had no option but to operate upon Kumar the same day.

“The risk of contracting infection in such cases is very high,” said Dr Sagar.

In the first surgery, on April 14, doctors stabilised whatever was left of Kumar’s lower and upper jawbones with the help of metal plates. “It was more like a jig-saw puzzle, but our main target was to reconstruct the skin cover to avoid the spread of infection,” said Dr Singhal.

In the second surgery, on April 17, the skin from his forehead was taken to create the flap on his face, and a part of his skin from his right thigh was used to cover the forehead. Though Kumar is half way through his treatment, he needs to undergo a couple of surgeries before he comes back to shape.

Life saving surgeries have been successfully conducted on him and what remains to be taken care of is the cosmetic part. The remaining surgeries will take care of the scars, shape of nose and an artificial eye. “Though whatever is natural cannot be replaced, we are trying our best. And he is responding well,” said Dr Singhal.