Doctors at Srinagar’s Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) hospital have seen it all – ruptured eyes, pellet in the eyeballs, patients writhing in pain and some even dying. Working round the clock, they have saved many lives since the protests began last week.
With people accompanying the injured protestors running high on emotions and shouting slogans just outside the trauma theaters, the doctors have performed 117 surgeries in the past six days, some even on trolleys. The rush, doctors say, is unprecedented in the history and it is like a war-situation in the hospital.
“This was a thunder blast on my face when all of a sudden on Saturday around 5 PM I found 25 injuries coming one over another. I was shocked what is going on,” said Tariq Qureshi, head of the Ophthalmology department.
Thirty-one-year-old Dr Rashid Maqbool said they had seen youth with pellets in their eyes before but this time they were taken aback by the magnitude of injured patients. “As long as your skin is not involved you are fine but ultimately we are humans with emotions. This is depressing for us as well,” he said.
Thirty-seven eye surgeries were performed by the doctors on Sunday alone and on the preceding and following day the number was 25 each. “I needed to take a break and when I went out I saw a young injured youth was being resuscitated. He died in front of my eyes,” Maqbool said. “Tears were flowing from eyes and I went to wash my face. I asked myself what will I do, I have to perform another surgery.”
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Officials and doctors in the hospital said 90 percent of the patients with pellets in the eyes may lose vision in at least one eye. Doctors who operated said they found round, irregular and sharp edged pellets in the eyes and most of them still remain there in the patients.
“Our first task was to do the primary repair so as the material inside the eyes does not fall out. We just closed the globe,” 30-year-old Dr Ishfaq Ahmad Sofi said. “We have to live with this that most of the patients would have to live with just one eye.”
Pellets were introduced in the Valley in 2010 as a non-lethal to control and disperse protesters but the damage they leave is permanent. “We would get 5-6 cases of pellets in eyes occasionally on Fridays but today the number has already crossed 100. It is a huge trauma,” said Sofi.
Maqbool and Sofi have been in the hospital since Saturday – the day the ambulances with injured started rushing in the hospital. The doctors are satisfied that despite the large number of patients with eye surgeries in the hospital, none of the patients was infected or compromised with. But in one voice they say it is depressing and too much to bear with.
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