Botched surgery leaves writer blind in both eyes

A cataract operation gone wrong in Larkana deprives Abdul Manan Chandio of his vision

Sameer Mandhro September 14, 2021
Sindhi writer Comrade Abdul Mannan Chandio with his daughter before his eyes were damaged. Photo: express


Prolific Sindhi writer and Awami Tehreek leader, Abdul Manan Chandio, endearingly known as 'Comrade' among his friends and family, was recently admitted at Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital with critical complications from a cataract surgery. An operation at a government hospital in Larkana left him blind in both eyes allegedly due to negligent doctors. On Friday, one of his eyes was removed as the doctors at civil hospital could not save it, the other will be treated in the coming week, but the progress is weak.

Comrade's family believes it was negligence of the doctors that led to the 67-year-old losing his eyesight. Speaking to The Express Tribune, Irfan Chandio, Comrade's son, said his father went to the hospital for a routine check-up last July after feeling some irritation in his right eye. After examination, the doctors told him he needed to be prepared for an immediate cataract operation - a common procedure to clear a cloudy lens or replace it with a new one.

Irfan said his father's surgery was scheduled soon after his first visit and Chandio was discharged the same day. "[After the procedure] he felt some pain and went back to the hospital." Irfan believes the two doctors treating his father in Larkana performed another surgery on him. "We were referred to Karachi after a few days when the complications escalated."

After being referred from one hospital to another in the metropolis, Chandio was finally admitted by the ear, nose and throat (ENT) department at Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital on August 11.

ENT doctors and ophthalmologists in Karachi informed Chandio's family that the government doctors in Larkana had misunderstood the underlying cause behind the initial difficulty Chandio was facing with his right eye. "My father had a problem concerning the nose not his eyes," said Irfan.

Critical condition

"He was brought here with serious complications," Dr Noor Ahmed Soomro told The Express Tribune. He has fungus in his eyes and his condition is very critical, said Dr Soomro.

Before the surgery to remove his right eye, both of Chandio's eyes were swollen and by then he could not see from either of them. The best doctors have been assigned to treat him, claimed Dr Soomro.

Handing medicine to his father before the surgery, Irfan said it was only the negligence and the indifference of the doctors in Larkana towards his father's health that Chandio lost his eyesight. Not only that, he was mistreated to the point that now his survival is at risk, added Irfan.

A legacy & a daughter's wish

"I want to donate one of my eyes to my father," said Mehwish, Irfan's 21-year-old daughter. "We love our father and want him to see the world like we do." Comrade, who is called that by his children as well, has spent his life as a political and civil activist, striving for the betterment of his community.

A farmer by profession, Comrade participated in the Movement to Restore Democracy and is the current president of the Awami Tehreek in Qambar-Shahdadkot. He is a frequent contributor to Sindhi newspapers, with his latest published piece reflecting on the brutal murder of Quratulain in Hyderabad - her husband, former Sindh irrigation secretary's son, Khalid Umar Memon, who allegedly has a history of violence, reportedly tortured her to death last July.

When the news of Comrade's lost vision and weak prognosis for survival broke out, condolence and well wishes poured from all corners of society. Several activists on social media appealed to philanthropists to generate funds to support Comrade and his family.

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"We aren't in the position to pursue a police case against the doctors in Larkana," said Irfan, fighting back tears. His treatment right now is, thankfully, being provided free of charge at civil hospital, added Irfan. "My father needs to survive."

Hareef Chandio, a friend and distant relative, lamented the severe complications from an otherwise common and safe procedure. "It is the sheer negligence of doctors." Irfan added that though the family had decided for two among them to donate one eye each to his father, the doctors might not be able to perform the procedure. "It seems impossible as the infection is getting complicated with each passing day." This was criminal negligence but the family's priority right now is to ensure Chandio's survival, added Irfan.

Meanwhile, sources privy to the development told The Express Tribune that top officials in the Sindh health department have sought the details of Chandio's treatment after learning of the case from social media.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 14th, 2021.


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