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Surgery on Malda girl

Malda, Dec. 23: The schoolgirl who was raped on Saturday night is critical, doctors in Malda Medical College and Hospital said today.

The 14-year-old underwent a tracheotomy surgery last night so that an air passage could be opened to assist her breathing as doctors suspect her vocal cords and wind pipe were damaged when her attacker, Abhay Mondal, thrust a metal pipe down her throat.

Doctors said the girl is in her senses but unable to speak. The doctors also suspect that the trauma has led to infection in the windpipe and the infection was spreading. The victim’s throat has begun swelling.

According to the police, the girl became unconscious after Abhay raped her and thrust the rod down her throat. She remained unconscious for two hours. When she came to, the victim went to a tea stall, about a kilometre from her home. The locals at the tea stall took her to hospital.

Doctors in Calcutta said tracheotomy is a common surgical procedure to allow a person suffering from a block in the upper respiratory tract to breathe.

“A bypass is created with an artificial tube. Once the infection is reduced, then the tube is taken out and the person starts breathing through the respiratory tract,” said Arunabha Sengupta, head of the department of ENT at SSKM Hospital in Calcutta.

If the artificial tube too gets blocked because of infection or other reasons, it has to be replaced, he said.

In Malda, the ENT doctor overseeing the girl’s treatment, said the metal tube inserted for assisted breathing may have to be replaced in 72 hours. But at present, no such tube is available in Malda.

Prabir Mondal, the head of the ENT department at Malda Medical College, said: “We conducted a tracheotomy to open an airway to restore her normal breathing as her vocal cords have ruptured. The one-and-a-half-hour surgery was done last night. But the problem is that the tube which has been inserted in her throat needs to be changed after 72 hours and right now, such a tube is not available here.”

Asked to describe the patient’s condition, the doctor said: “The girl is conscious but in a critical condition.”

He added that for better assessment of the damage to her windpipe and vocal cords, the girl would have to undergo an endoscopy, but that would have to wait till the girl gets better.

“Also, there are injuries in her abdomen for which she needs to be operated on. We have told general surgeons about the operations and once she recuperates, some more operations are required to help her speak,” doctor Mondal said. “Such operations are not possible in Malda Medical College.”

The doctor said that “because of the trauma, her infection has spread in the affected region and is fast spreading to adjoining tissues. Her throat has swollen because of the infection. There are chances that she might have to be shifted to Calcutta for advanced treatment.”

This morning, when Metro visited the female surgical ward of the hospital, the girl’s mother was next to her.

Yesterday, preliminary police investigation had revealed that the accused, farm labourer Abhay, was in a relationship with the girl’s mother, who is a widow, and had wanted to marry her.

The mother had expressed reluctance to the proposal, mentioning her minor daughter as a reason.

Today, the lady said: “I am here with my daughter since yesterday evening. She could not sleep last night because of the pain. Doctors are frequently visiting her and injecting medicines.”

She said she “had never thought that Abhay would do this. We will never forgive him and want exemplary punishment for him.”

Krishnendu Narayan Choudhury, the state tourism minister, today said the state would bear all expenditure of the girl’s treatment.

“She would be taken to Calcutta or even outside the state for treatment, if needed. The state would bear all expenses,” he said.

“We have also come to know that she lay unconscious for two hours after the brutality and then sought help. Also, as she realised that she could not speak, she wrote the name of the accused in a paper. For this act, we will felicitate her on behalf of the state government after she gets well,” he added.