Published: 13th January 2018
Acid attack survivors from all over the country come to Chennai. Here's why!
Most of the acid attack survivors in the country have got their eye surgery done in Sankara Nethralaya, Chennai
"Take the next right turn. That will lead you straight to the hospital," Anshu Rajput told me. "Wow! You really know the routes in Chennai quite well," I said, surprised. "I am very good with routes, unlike Farah didi," she giggled, pointing at Farah Khan, who was sitting beside her. "Hey! I was good with routes too. But not after the attack. Now, I don't see everything quite so well," said Farah.
Anshu and Farah are both acid attack survivors who've come down to Chennai for their eye surgery with a hope to see the world better once again, like how they did before acid was poured on their faces. "Why did you travel all the way from Delhi to Chennai?" I asked them curiously. "Sankara Nethralaya in Chennai is one among the best hospitals in the country. The surgery isn't cheap, but we want to make sure that it is done somewhere good," said Farah, as she took her shades off. Her left eye is non-existent.
So, what sets Sankara Nethralaya apart from other eye hospitals? Curious, we caught up with Dr Geetha Iyer, a senior consultant there. "For the past 15 years, we've tied up with so many organisations and we're on a mission to create more awareness on acid attacks," she stated. The hospital treats 10-15 acid attack survivors every year. "One technology that we use is cementing a plastic optic cylinder in the patient's eye, using their own tooth," she explained. (I have to admit that my jaw dropped right about then.)
Dr Iyer also stressed on the fact that as soon as the patient's burns are treated, their eyes must also be given equal importance, making sure that they don't attract many infections. This makes it easier to perform the surgery later.