Bangalore, 14 March, 2018: The 2 year long agony of being partially blind came to an end for 7 year old Shaktivel as his vision has been restored after a successful eye surgery at Dr. Agarwal’s Eye Hospital. The eye sight was revived by performing conjunctival limbal stem cell transplant. The conjuctival limbal stem cell was harvested from Shaktivel’s father.
Hailing from Arulnatham a village in Denkanikottai of Tamil Nadu, Shaktivel had a normal childhood. However, two years ago while playing, lime powder accidentally fell into his right eye causing irritation. As access to medical facility was limited, the boy’s family administered him with home remedy. Though the irritation subsided he started developing stickiness and difficulty in closing and opening his eyes. His vision was also blurring. Owing to the socio-economic conditions, the family did not pursue any further treatment.
However, fortunately for Shaktivel, he got referred to Dr. Agarwal’s Eye Hospital, Bangalore for treatment. On arrival, Shaktivel had minimal vision. In fact, he was largely dependent on his left eye. Further, he was not in a position to move his eye ball. On detailed examination by Dr. Raghu, Senior Consultant, Dr. Agarwal’s Eye Hospital and team, it was diagnosed that Shaktivel was suffering from a condition called symblepharon formation wherein the inside lining of the eye lid that covers the eye and the layer that covers the eye ball were stuck together. The stickiness was a reaction of the lime powder. Further, the child was also diagnosed with ectropion, a condition in which the lower eyelid turns or sags outward, away from the eye, exposing the surface of the inner eyelid. Though challenging, Dr. Raghu and team took up the case.
While traditionally the condition is treated by releasing the symblepharon and then grafting the inner layer with amniotic membrane or mucous membrane from the mouth. But, as both the procedures can lead to scaring of the cornea as well as stem cell deficiency, doctor’s opted for conjunctival limbal cell transplant. In conjunctival limbal cell transplant, the stem cells are taken from the conjunctiva it does not cause scaring. Further as the stem cell is from the eyes it does not lead to stem cell deficiency either. Fortunately for Shaktivel, his father turned out to be a complete match with the same blood group. The doctors harvested the conjunctival limbal cell from Shaktivel’s father and transplanted it to Shaktivel. Today, the child has not only regained his vision, he is ready to lead a normal life.
Elaborating about the case, Dr. Raghu, Senior Consultant, Dr. Agarwal’s Eye Hospital, said, “In this case the patient has been living with the condition for more than 2 years and hence separation of the tissue was a challenge. We used refined dissection methods to separate the tissue. This helped us to ensure that the inner tissues are not damaged as well as the normal contour of the eye was maintained. Further, controlling the bleeding especially while separating the tissues also required special care. By administering minimal cautery we managed to arrest the blood flow as well.”
Sharing his joy, Mr. Govindappa , a daily wage worker and father of the Shaktivel as well as the donor said, “We had completely lost hope until we met the doctors at Dr. Agarwal’s Eye Hospital. I am thankful to the ophthalmic experts for not only restoring my son’s vision.”
While parents always strive to ensure their child’s well being, in Shaktivel’s case, his father has not only taken good care of him; he has turned out to be a saviour in the true sense of the word. Further, the case of Shaktivel also provides a ray of hope for patients suffering from conditions like symblepharon that can lead to blindness.