Pioneering op for Chernobyl boy

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital consultant ocular plastic surgeon Bijan Beigi will tomorrow perform the first operation of its kind in Norfolk on an 11-year old boy from Belarus whose eyesight is impaired probably as a result of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Ocular plastic surgery is a relatively new speciality in the UK. Advanced oculoplastic surgery is carried out at only a few centres in the country, including Norwich. Saturday’s operation on Sacha Gruzd is designed to correct the absence of his eyelid elevator muscles (the muscles used to raise eyelids). Sacha struggles to see unless he tips his head far back to see through a slit of his eyelids. If his condition is left uncorrected he will also develop serious problems with an arthritic neck in the next few years.

The surgical team at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital are giving up their time for free and the charity, Chernobyl Children Lifeline, that has brought Sacha to the UK, will pay for the costs of any medical items used after his operation.

The delicate three-hour operation will see muscles taken from Sacha’s leg, then grafted into his eyelids and finally connected to muscles in his forehead in order to allow him to then learn to open and close his eyelids.

Mr Bijan Beigi has carried out similar operations before on children in Norfolk using synthetic tissue but this will be the first time in Norfolk that the operation will feature a graft using the patient’s leg muscle tissue.

Mr Beigi said: “Sacha’s condition presents him with real problems now and relatively soon he will develop other painful problems as a direct result of his condition. He’s a lovely child who has already suffered not only physical problems but also the emotional pain of being teased about his condition and there is no prospect of a remedy in his own country.

“As a team we all feel for Sacha and we are just glad that we are able to give our time for such a good cause. Just ten years ago we would not have been able to carry out a procedure like this with such ease and he really deserves a chance to have this eye problem corrected. “

Saturday’s surgical team is comprised of Mr Beigi as lead surgeon, Ms Roxanne Kempster, assisting surgeon, Ms Anna Harrison, Senior House Officer, Graham Crocombe, instrument technician, Christina Nozal, Staff Nurse (scrub nurse), Joanna Holland, circulating staff nurse, Jude Matencio, Staff Nurse (scrub nurse), Margaret Lovell, Auxiliary nurse, Charles Davidson, Operating Department Assistant, and an anaesthetist.

Sacha is being cared for by Gorleston couple Mike and Jeanette Butcher and he has stayed with them on a number of previous occasions.

Friday 17th of October 2003 04:00:11 PM