Baitul Bi, 55, is afraid that she will lose her job as a cook’s assistant now that she has lost her eyesight after a botched cataract surgery at a Barwani eye surgery camp last month. She was one of the two bread earners for her family of five after the death of her son a few years ago.
Forty-five patients lost their eyesight after they underwent a cataract surgery at a camp organised by Andhatva Nivaran (blindness eradication) Committee of Barwani district hospital between November 16 and 21. The matter came to the light after they complained of inflammation, itching and low vision after the surgery, and were referred to government MY hospital and private Aurobindo hospital in Indore.
Baitul, a native of Sendhwa who was operated on November 19 at the camp, is now clueless how her family will make end meet. The woman is now under treatment at MY Hospital.
“My mother-in-law and I together ran the house after the death of my husband. She worked at a school as a cook’s helper and earned around `1,500-`3,000 every month. With her eyesight gone it will be difficult to make ends meet,” says Baitul’s daughter-in-law, Farzana Bi.
Similar are the worries of Ganesh Mali, who sits by his father Namdev on his hospital bed. The native from Khariya village, Namdev, also lost sight of his left eye after the operation.
Angry with the turn of fate and the deplorable condition of the operation theatre where the patients underwent the surgeries, Namdev says: “I was at the hospital for a day after my operation when I complained of pain in my eyes. But the doctors assured me that it will go away. When I returned home it became unbearable. It was only after two days that they re-admitted me to Barwani district hospital.”
The man in his late fifties had recently opened a paan shop in his village to support his family after quitting job as a daily labourer. “It would get us somewhere around Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000 monthly. Loss of his (Namdev’s) eyesight will cost us dearly,” says Ganesh.
The victims of the botched surgery told HT that there were bloodstains, garbage and foul stench in and around the operation theatre at the district hospital where the surgeries were conducted. “Barwani district hospital is the only government hospital in the area where a cataract surgery is performed. There was no other place where we could have gone for the surgery,” says Farzana.
While patients are now raising fingers at the poor hygienic at the district hospital, social activist Madhuri Krishnaswami says this is nothing new. “The operation theatre is pretty bad around the year and no post operative care is usually taken. Be it cases related to maternal deaths, sterilisation operations or this eye surgery case, the operation theatre here is so badly managed that one can often hear such cases (of (botched surgeries),” she says.
Asked if the Rs 2 lakh compensation announced by the chief minister would ease their pain, the victims answer with a straight no.
“They will never be able to see, so how can you expect us to be okay with the money?” says Nandini, who had accompanied hergrandmother, Dabku Bai, 60, from Manawar for the surgery.