Case 6

Someone threw acid in this woman’s face the day her boyfriend asked her to marry him. The ophthalmologist told me that she would need a cornea transplant but there was a tiny chance that her cornea could be saved if we put drops in her eyes every four hours around the clock. I and the nurses took turns sleeping in the clinic to give it a chance. After about a month, I was on duty. I was sleeping on the floor of the lobby when I heard in a faint but excited voice coming from the consultation room where we had set her up: “I can see!”. Its something I will never forget…

Here is how it happened: The cornea has 8 layers of cells on top of it. Her eyeballs were burned by the acid and were as black as charcoal.. Over the course of the month the top 7 layers sloughed off to expose the basement membrane which regenerated the new layers. The day she was able to see was the day the last burned layer sloughed off to reveal the new cornea! The drops kept the new cells of the cornea viable during this process as they would have dried out and died because there was no upper lid blink to keep them moist… It worked!

A month later, scar contractures were keeping her eyes open all the time. I had to release the lids because they couldn’t touch. Then I had to fill the defects so created with skin I harvested from behind her ears. Can you imagine trying to sleep with your eyes open? They get very dry too. So we had to break out the drops again, dropping water into her eyes every few minutes.

We eventually did a ‘’face lift’’ to remove that nasty scar in front of her ear.

I’m laying the graft in the bed I created while releasing the lids (so they would touch)

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The skin grafts have lost their arterial supply so I had to put these bolsters on to push them down into the bed where they could get their oxygen by diffusion.

After a few days, I removed the bolsters...


I fixed this scar too…

See that look in her eyes? This is what I live for. It says: ‘’You’re going to actually get me through this, I believe you now…’’ Words need not be spoken...

I had to sew her eyelid shut for another month so it would heal without contracture and function properly. What she went through…

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