Eye hospital tends to patients in dark

Docs conduct 13 surgeries by candlelight

It is common to hear innovative ways of treating patients in rural areas due to lack of resources. But on Monday, Guru Nanak Eye Centre (GNEC), the biggest eye hospital of Delhi government, performed candlelight surgeries owing to a complete power failure.

Beating adverse conditions, doctors in the emergency ward conducted 13 surgeries in the light of candles and hand-held devices like torches. All the patients had been brought to the emergency after meeting with accidents.

“We could have referred the bleeding patients to Dr R P Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). But that would have been dangerous for many. An eye injury has to be treated as early as possible,” said a surgeon. 

Other doctors said retina and cornea can be saved in a better condition if an early operation is conducted.   

The electricity failure occurred as two transformers caught fire and stopped functioning on Sunday evening. An engineer of Public Works Department (PWD) said water entered the underground cable resulting in a short circuit.
 As an alternative, two generators were being used. But they ran out of fuel by 7 am on Monday. The services in the 186-bed hospital resumed on Tuesday afternoon.

The hospital conducts nearly 150 minor and major surgeries a day in its four Operation Theatres (OTs). 

Nearly 60 per cent of the cases are of cataract. Already planned surgeries and follow-up check-ups could not take place on Monday.

Mohit, a Geeta Colony resident, said he had come for the cataract operation of his father, who had agreed to the treatment reluctantly. He has been asked to come on Friday for admitting his father. 

Other cataract patients faced a similar fate. Cataract is a disease of the old, usually those who have crossed 65 years. They find it tough to move about and visit the hospital again and again. Patients who had been operated upon on Friday were called for follow-up on Monday, but could not be looked at. 

Patients from other states had more problems to share. “I have not seen this even in my village dispensary. I came for LASER surgery. It became tough to breathe in the humid weather as no fan was working. No doctor saw me as there was no light,” said Sarin Gupta, a student from Allahabad. He hoped to see a doctor on Tuesday.

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