Friday, March 09, 2007

The Machine: Repair, Maintenance and Enhancement

Have you tried to sew a button on your shirt?? Or at the least have seen somebody doing it. I myself have been sewn over at more than a couple of places of my body, much thanks to the mess I keep landing up in. And it is not an easy job. One of the times that somebody stitched me, he did such a botched job I still have a noticeable scar after 4 years.

Initially today's post was for automobile engines, but as chance would have it I got to see work on a part of the greatest machine existing : the human body ( was there any doubt?? )

Statement: I have stopped rash driving.

Ok. It needs modification. On most occasion I do not drive rashly. Sometimes I drive fast, but that is on free roads. Which is what I did today morning, that too without a helmet on. Sun in the face, wind in the hair (albeit it was more in the ear)... you know the feeling. Add to it that I am learning to swim these days and I don't wear those recommended goggles which are supposed to protect your eyes from the chlorine in the water. Complex combination of factors led to some irritation in both eyes and I had to visit the doctor in the eye hospital.

While waiting in the waiting room (where else??), I saw a video about corneal transplant. Cornea is the transparent layer over your eye pupil and iris and the white of the eye. Lots of people are blind in the eye because this transparency is lost and the thing becomes opaque. Many others suffer from impaired vision. The origin are many, genetic birth defect is just one of them. So what's the cure?? Corneal transplant. That is to say, somebody actually gives you his/her cornea and the doctor puts it right in, in your eye (obviously the donor is dead, why else would somebody become blind for you??). And then you see the world in light. So far so good.

What I saw in the video was much more amazing than this simple fact. The eye is actually popped out from the eye socket of the donor, dabbed with antibiotic and stored in a fridge. And the fridge that was there in the video was the regular Kelvinator or Whirlpool 165/195 L type thing. Eeewww! Better hospitals must be having better storage. I mean how can you store something so precious in such a thing?? That's what I thought initially but then I realized that the thing is currently dead, so it hardly matters. Matters of personal taste, eh??

Next the operation was terrific/horrific (depending on how squeamish you are). The cornea is actually sliced out and the new cornea from the donor is put back in. Obviously there is no magic glue which will hold the thing in place. And here in comes in some real skill. The doctor actually used a needle and thread to sew the cornea in place. Ooooo... The sewing needle is held by some forceps and the other end of the thread by another instrument. And the hands merrily sewed away all along the edges. Realization dawned. Those are really steady hands to deal with such sensitive area. One mistake and you are behind square one. Anyways...

Remember the video from Eye Bank Association of India in which Aishwarya Rai promoted eye donation. Smitten as I was at that time, I immediately wanted to go and pledge mine. But then I was legally junior. But chance has presented itself again. Let me see if I have it in me to donate even eyes. Will come back with updates on this.

Some videos I found:
Cornea Transplant Surgery - Price Vision Group
Transplante córnea

And the obvious wikipedia link

There are lots others on the net.