Mumbai doctor sculpts eyelids for two year-old Dubai girl

City doctor sculpts eyelids for two year-old Dubai girl, grafting skin from behind mother’s ear

Ophthalmic plastic surgeon, Dr Sunil Vasani steps out of the operating theater of his first floor clinic, ‘Eyes R Us’ opposite the August Kranti Maidan near Nana Chowk, on the first floor of a building called Jer Mansion. This surgeon has just finished a challenging, exacting job of crafting eyelids for a two year-old girl called, Meera Mohammed Rashid. She was born without eyelids. She has a genetic skin condition called ichthyosis.

Sunanya with her daughter Meera Mohammed Rashid
Sunanya with her daughter Meera Mohammed Rashid

Her eyes have been open since the day she was born, and she, in fact, sleeps that way too. She did have lashes though, and these were stuck to her eyebrow. The skin for the lids was taken from behind her young mother’s ear and then crafted into eyelids, with the lashes stuck on them.

Dr Sunil Vasani makes a point. Pics/Satyabhrata Tripathy
Dr Sunil Vasani makes a point. Pics/Satyabhrata Tripathy

Says Dr Vasani, “Our eyelids are like the shutter of a shop. They need to open and close. When we blink there is natural lubrication. There is a danger of blindness when they do not shut as the cornea will dry up eventually.” About grafting the skin from behind her mother's ear, Dr Vasani adds. “I opted to take the skin from the back of the mother's ear. It was a good match, otherwise I would have to go to a skin bank. It has been taken from behind the ear for cosmetic purposes.” The procedure costs approximately Rs 1,00,000 for both eyelids. Dr Vasani claimed that huge advances in plastic surgery have given people so much. “We have constructed artificial eyes to such authenticity that you would not know which is real or fake. When patients come back to us, saying we are getting married or getting a job that is when you feel a deep sense of satisfaction.”

Meera Mohammed’s mother, Sunanya Saleh Ali, smiled as the doctor spoke. Her girl was sleeping, the effects of the general anaesthesia still to wear off. Sunanya said, “This has been such a great week. We are Dubai residents, though originally from Oman. We made the trip here, especially for this procedure, a small but significant step in my daughter’s journey. I am so happy to be a donor for my daughter,” laughed Sunanya as Meera’s grandmother (Sunanya's mother) clicked a selfie with her daughter to mark the occasion, the camera flash blinking, just like her granddaughter now would.

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