Vani loses battle with eye cancer

Vani loses battle with eye cancer

A file photo of Vani.Four-year-old Vani Prabhakaran, whose plight the Deccan Herald had reported in its July 7 edition last year, passed away on Sunday night after the cancerous tumour of the retina spread to her brain.

Despite a huge response and the hospital receiving around Rs 33,000 for her treatment, doctors who detected the cancerous cells in her brain only a week ago, couldn’t save Vani. Perhaps, the help came too late.

Her father Prabhakaran, a mason and resident of Dasarahalli, took Vani’s body to his native Madakasira village in Ananthapur district, Andhra Pradesh.Even though the family was distraught, Prabhakaran had one wish: if only Vani’s case can help parents to get their children tested early for retinoblastoma...

Dr Ashwin Mallipatna of Narayana Nethralaya, who was treating Vani, said: “We couldn’t save her as there were a lot of complications.”

Vani had malignant tumour in both her eyes. While one of her eyes was removed in 2009 and she underwent chemotherapy for the other eye, her father dropped out of treatment for want of funds. When he returned with money that was donated after Deccan Herald published an article, the cancer had advanced.

A common disease

Around 2,000 children are detected with retinoblastoma every year. However, few get adequate and early treatment. Yet, many children lose the battle for life as their parents fail to detect or afford the cost of treatment.Narayana Nethralaya had planned using camera as a tool for early detection of eye tumour in rural areas. The flashlight would show a white dot, similar to cataract, in the eye, if the tumour exists. But details are being worked out, said Mallipatna.

The hospital currently has 40-45 children with an average age of 2-5 years undergoing various phases of treatment. Interestingly, the hospital has been busier than the last few years.

“The unit is getting more recognition and there is more awareness among people,” he said. The success rate of the treatment varies from 50 per cent to 90 per cent.

The government-run Minto Hospital receives three to four cases in six months.  

Symptoms

* White reflex in the centre part of the eyeball when light is flashed on the eye
* Squint eyes
* Blunt or decreased vision
* Bleeding in the eye

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