When Gursharan Kaur Insan died peacefully in Bathinda little did she know that her eyes would be transplanted in far off Kashmir.
Tahira, from Zadibal, Srinagar, who was battling the trauma of her husband, Fida Hussain, who had been badly injured in the floods had another reason to despair. A disease in her cornea called macular dystrophy had reduced her vision making it difficult for her to knit or even cook. There was no hope of any treatment. And that made life even tougher.
Hasina, is a garrulous old woman who would not stop watering from her right eye. Her cornea was hit by a disease where it failed to maintain clarity due to the inner pump dysfunction. Her husband, Manzoor Ahmad Bhat had no money to take her to Hyderabad for treatment, which offers the shortest waiting times for corneal transplants.
Her 30 year old son, Tasadduq Manzoor Bhat, had never imagined that the opportunity of getting his mother treated would arise in the midst of the devastation wrought by the floods.
Dr.Imtiaz, a senior ophthalmologist who stood listlessly outside the OPD at SKIMS hospital in Bemina in Srinagar was caught up in thoughts of despair as the reopening of the hospital seemed tardy because of extensive damage.
It was a chance meeting with a bald man wearing a brown track suit like uniform that would create history of the first corneal transplants in Jammu and Kashmir. Dr. Imtiaz along with his two seniors Dr.Riaz and Dr.Sajjad, was trying to start corneal transplantation for a long time in the hospital. But the flood had jeopardized even normal work, flooding their OPD’s and ground floor operation theatre.
And when the track suit man explained that his Guru, Saint Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan, in Sirsa had asked them to render all help including starting advanced healthcare facilities, it made little sense. They were still trying to get the hospital started.
Then, 57 of the track suit clad volunteers from Shah Satnamji Green S Welfare Force Wing, marched into the blood bank of the parent SKIMS at Soura, the head of department, Dr.Fehmida Dednari was impressed enough to take the group leader and ophthalmologist, Dr Aditya Insaan to the director of the two hospitals, Prof.
Showkat Zargar for a meeting that would create the backdrop for the first ever corneal transplant operation in the state. Dr.Zargar promised all help and support. It was the SSP, Altaf Khan of Jammu and Kashmir Armed Police, who was leading his men in cleanliness drive in the same hospital on that day, who promised to help out with the logistics in future.
The date was 26th of September, when everyone had agreed to do their bit. But none envisaged that Gursharan Kaur Insan, who died the same day, would be donating her eyes for a voyage to Kashmir.
The eye bank clerk, Atma Ram, took the eyes in cold chain by road to Delhi, where Kamal Insan of the Shah SatnamJi Green S Welfare Force Wing, waited to board the next flight. At Srinagar, a smartly attired DSP, Owaise Rashid Loun, waited for the eyes at the airport. What no one could anticipate was that Guruji had instructed for 7 eyes to be sent to serve the needs of patients as well as wetlab. The team gathered in the hospital’s general surgery theatre because the eye OT was still a little damp.
“I have been volunteering for a gamut of non-medical tasks, but atleast for today, I am a doctor,” said Dr.Insaan while discussing the intricacies of various techniques. The patients’ were hopeful, but a little scared. Tasadduq Manzoor Bhat said that Guruji’s gesture in such times was like a gift from God. In the crowded operation theatre, Dr.Aditya operated the two patients while demonstrating every step of lamellar and full thickness techniques.
The next day, in the morning, Tahira was reading a couple of lines from the chart while Hasina had significantly improved after her operation called the triple procedure, in which both her cornea and her lens was replaced.
The eye department at SKIMS, Bemina was wonderfully supportive as the head, Dr.Riyaz arranged OT on a Sunday, 28th September. All doctors and staff were flood victims themselves yet they responded magnificently. Dr.Imtiaz, who assisted the procedure, said , “This is a gift from Guruji, there are so many poor patients who need help.” That God has a plan, that could take a whole new meaning even in the worst of times, says Dr.Sheikh Sajjad Ahmad, head of Cornea unit.The patients and their relatives are beaming. And the Dera team is already making plans of donating dead bodies for research to SKIMS.
Mission Insaniyat for Kashmir awaits its next big step!
(With inputs from Sukhjeet Insan)