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8 blind after cataract surgery
- 88 people operated in six hours in NGO’s illegal camp in college

Lucknow, Feb. 1: Eight persons lost their eyesight after doctors conducted an unauthorised cataract surgery camp on a college ground at Barabanki in Uttar Pradesh and sent patients home without follow-up, state officials said.

Several dozen people had undergone surgery at the camp organised by Kanpur-based Maa Vaishnavi Chikitsa Sansthan, a non-government organisation, which had brought in qualified and experienced doctors, the officials said.

The government, which was to pay Rs 700 to the NGO for each operation, had given the go-ahead for a cataract camp on January 12 at the primary health centre at Trivediganj, 46-km from here.

“But they set up the camp at an intermediate college ground without any authorisation,” Uma Kant Gupta, district chief medical officer, said. “They neither informed this office nor the medical officer at Trivediganj,” he said.

At the camp, four doctors operated on 88 patients in just six hours, officials said. One patient had a wrong eye operated while another who did not have cataract had both eye lenses removed.

By January 25, the patients had turned up at the district hospital complaining of blurred vision, eye pain and other signs of infection. “Our investigations suggest there was no follow-up of patients,” Gupta said.

“A follow-up examination 24 hours after surgery is mandatory,” said Tinku Bali Razdan, a consultant ophthalmologist at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Delhi, not connected to the event. “It just has to be done.”

NGO spokesperson Surendra Singh said there had been no medical negligence. “We had organised the camp with all good intentions, but the villagers were ignorant and illiterate. They failed to take post-operative care despite us telling them repeatedly to do so,” he said.

Some patients with complications had to have their eyes removed because of infection while others had to undergo a second operation.

Doctors said instruments and fluid used during surgery were potential sources of infection, particularly in cataract camps.

Police have registered an FIR against the NGO after the Centre demanded a probe.

A case of criminal negligence has been registered against the NGO. “We will take action on the basis of what emerges out of the probe,” Praveen Kumar, senior superintendent of police, Barabanki, said.

The worst-affected patients are from Lalaikheda village, government doctors said.

Noor Mohammad, 65, said no surgeon had advised him about post-operative care.

Some patients were even operated upon wrongly, officials said. Hasmat-ul-Nissa, 62, suffers from corneal opacity, for which she needed a transplant. But the doctors did a cataract surgery.

Another victim even alleged that the doctors had operated on the wrong eye. “The doctors were chatting and laughing even as they had gone in for the operation,” said 71-year-old Safiqul Nissa.

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