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Faceless quake survivor is face of resilience!


AHMEDABAD: Even essentially the most seasoned plastic surgeons - habituated to see disfigured bodies - had shuddered once they got rid of bandages off Jhakhra Sanchar, a 53-year-old 2001 Gujarat earthquake victim. His face used to be a debrided flat house with out a nose, lips, ears and jaws with just one eye crying to be salvaged.
Dr Ayyapan Thangavel, ex-senior plastic surgeon at Civil Hospital, Ahmedabad, reminisces that Jhakhra used to be given only days to live when he used to be referred to them with critical blood an infection and a thready pulse. On the fateful morning of January 26, 2001, Jhakhra, father of four, used to be warming himself round a bonfire when the deadly tremblor led to the wall crumbling on him, his face buried to burn within the fire.

When Jakhra stabilized as an alternative, medical doctors and his family braced for the difficult activity of establishing his face from scratch.

Jhakhar underwent a record 36 surgeries over a duration of 3 years to get only a semblance of his facial features. It used to be then that the small-time farmer from Rampar village in Bhachau, Kutch, opted to halt the surgical march pronouncing he does not want to move beneath the knife anymore!


Villagers have got used to this horrifying uncle


I used to be able to die but then determined to honour God's want to live with zest and dignity. Scared, children would throw stones at me but now villagers have got used to this horrifying uncle," jests Jhakhra, now 71, who tills his farm with spouse Puriben.


Dr Ayyapan, who led Jakhra's treatment, says that many surgeries performed on Jakhra had been out-of-textbook, custom designed for the difficult case. “We rotated the scalp from behind to cover the world of eyes, nose and frontal cranium. To cover jaw bone and lip, we took in depth flaps from shoulder and higher arm,” recollects the surgeon. Fortunately, each flaps survived. Doctors then took skin grafts from leg and thigh to cover his eye-lid and his left eye used to be saved.“Using crane most important, the hairy skin used to be left to shape the eye-brows and leisure put back as a substitute in rear of the cranium. We then painstakingly created a mound for his nose, used tube pedicle flaps for developing moustache and beard. In all 36 surgeries later, lets give Jhakhra a suitable face,” says Dr Ayyapan. “We introduced more beauty surgeries for higher aesthetics but Jhakhra declined pronouncing he would organize.”Eighteen years later, Jakhra reminisces the fateful day on the eve of the killer quake which left nearly 14,000 dead in Gujarat. “I infrequently see my picture ahead of quake and really feel sorry for my loss. But then I notice this present of existence; wrap a stole round my head, wear my goggles and am excellent to live,” says Jhakhra.




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