30 years after the facility was shut down following objection by clerics, the facility has till now conducted 11 surgeries and has two more in pipeline
SRINAGAR: On Monday, the Sri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) hospital, will conduct two more cornea transplant surgeries, taking the number to 13 since July 23 when the facility became operative in the hospital.
The hospital, one of the main tertiary care medical facilities in Kashmir valley, started the facility afresh nearly 30 years after it was first started by senior ophthalmologist Dr Bashir and was shut down after objections raised by religious scholars.
According to Dr Bashir, he had even visited holy city of Makkah to get the permission for conducting such surgeries, but did not get the valley clerics to agree. The revival of the facility has rekindled hopes for patients who could not see because of a dysfunctional cornea in their eye.
“Since the facility started this year, we have been receiving donors for the surgery. We do the surgery now on daily basis. We have so far conducted 11, and two more will be done on Monday,” Dr Tariq Qureshi, head of the ophthalmology department at SHMS hospital told Kashmir Reader.
Dr Tariq said though the number of patients who require this surgery is high, the hospital has been receiving donors at an accelerating pace. All of them are from outside the state, he said.
“At present, we have 30 patients in our records needing this surgery. We call them as per the available donors for the surgeries. Previous surgeries have been successful,” he added.
Dr Tariq said that the cornea transplant surgery is successful among those patients whose retina, the place of image formation, and optic nerve that carries the signal to the brain, is intact.
It took nearly three years for the Jammu and Kashmir Government to approve the facility in the hospital when its requirements were only space, specialists and a machine. Before the hospital installed the facility, Dr Bashir had been carrying out such surgeries at his private clinic. He says a number of such surgeries have been done at his clinic and some were offered to patients from poorer economic backgrounds free of cost.
At the SMHS hospital, the surgery which has been adopted more than a century after it was first successfully performed in 1905 at Olomouc Eye Clinic in Czech Republic, is also free of any charge. Besides the transplant surgery, the ophthalmology department at SMHS, established in 1864, performs complex surgeries like vitrectomy (removal of vitreous humor) and lasers. Cornea transplant surgery is the latest addition to the specialized treatments the hospital offers.