Somalingappa’s composed face does not pucker as he narrates how, on 20th December 2011, just 40 days into his new job that promised a better pay for his family in Belgaum, his whole world went dark the moment hot liquid metal spurted into his eyes when casting metal at around 1 pm on a work day in a foundry in Kenya, Africa. It took till 3 pm to rush him to a hospital in Nairobi City where they performed an eye surgery to remove the metal shards and sent him on to Mumbai, India, for further medical and surgical treatment. He was operated on for membrane transplantation in Mumbai and for corneal transplantation in both his eyes in Bengaluru. Unfortunately, as infection had set in, his left eye was removed on April 16, 2012.
He did not regain vision in his right eye either, and a despairing Somalingappa sought out Dr Virender Sangwan of LVPEI. Dr Sunita Chaurasia operated on the right eye first on 1sr March 2012, to clean the fungus and close the eyelids as a precautionary measure. Six months later, Somalingappa returned to be referred to an in-house clinical psychologist to gauge his stress and undergo counseling sessions, which seemed to have helped somewhat, as he was understandably tensed leading up to the day of the Boston Keratoprosthesis Type II surgery.
The sight-restoring eye surgery was performed on 1 Feb 2013, to coincide with the visit of an American doctor, Professor Dr James Chodosh from Harvard Medical Centre, USA. When the eye was cleaned on the day after surgery, and the sutures held the eyelids closed together, Somalingappa joyously states that through the gaps in the sutures he was able to see two fingers held up in a victory sign, and three days later when the eyelids were cleaned in the outpatient clinic, he could make out the face of his doctor too, again through the gaps. To be able to see again after all hope was lost, was indeed an emotional moment.
Says a grateful Somalingappa, “I came here to LVPEI as the last resort; otherwise, I would have remained blind and had my second eye removed too. Today, I have been given another chance to live my life without depending too much on others for my daily routine.”
S N Malshetti Somalingappa, MR P662519, Boston K Pro Type II surgery