Vizag doctor disfigured in acid attack finds care and hope in Mumbai

Dr Balaji Bhushan Patnaik (35) was flown to Mumbai after acid attack by unknown bikers severely damaged the left side of his face, including his eye

Vizag doctor disfigured in acid attack finds care and hope in Mumbai

Renowned plastic surgeons of Mumbai have come together to treat a paediatrician from Visakhapatnam, who has been left disfigured after unknown bikers hurled acid on his face. The attack has left the doctor attached with Seven Hills Hospital in Visakhapatnam with deep acid burns and a severely damaged left eye.

Dr Balaji Bhushan Patnaik was attacked by three unknown men on the night of September 19 while he was returning home from hospital. After initial treatment at Seven Hills Hospital, he was airlifted to Mumbai for further treatment. He is being treated at Bombay Hospital and will undergoing multiple surgeries.

“The left side of his face has deep burn injuries. His left eye is severely affected. We are concerned whether there will be any vision in the eye and are in touch with ophthalmologists,” said Dr Amresh Baliarsingh, plastic surgeon at Bombay Hospital under whose care Dr Patnaik is being treated. Doctors say that he has almost 80 to 90 per cent facial and neck burns and will need to undergo facial reconstruction surgery.

Plastics surgeons like Dr Sunil Keswani, cosmetic surgeon and medical director of National Burns Centre, Dr RL Thatte, Dr Mukund Thatte, Dr Samir Kumta and Dr Shailesh Ranade are the other doctors who are closely involved in the treatment of Dr Patnaik.

“I met Dr Patnaik on the day he was airlifted and closely monitoring and discussing his treatment with Dr Baliarsingh. He underwent a primary surgery on Thursday where the dead skin was cleaned. The burn injuries were covered with cadaver skin that was sent from NBC. This procedure helps in preventing infection, decreasing pain and healing wounds,” said Dr Keswani. Dr Baliarsingh said this will be followed by auto grafting where Dr Patnaik’s own skin will be used to cover the wound.

Meanwhile, Dr Patnaik’s doctor friends have started crowd funding for his treatment. Dr Ajay Kar, ophthalmologist at Seven Hills Hospital, Visakhapatnam, and a close friend of Dr Patnaik said, “We have not been able to come to terms with what happened with him. He is a gem of a person and very cordial. This act of barbarism not only damaged his face and eye, but affected the personal and professional life of a budding and dynamic paediatrician. His treatment may cost Rs40 to 50 lakhs which is unaffordable for any middle class family. We all are contributing in whatever way we can.”

Recounting the night of September 19, Dr Anjali Saple, a plastic surgeon at Seven Hills Visakhapatnam, who first saw Dr Patnaik said they could only recognise him by his voice as his face had turned white. “My ears still rings with his words that night. Moment he heard my voice, he said – ‘Ma’am just save me’. He kept holding my hand and was completely shaken,” she said.

Dr Saple said she had just returned home when the hospital called for her. “His face had turned white. His left eye had turned blue. I immediately took him under the shower and gave a thorough wash. His eyes were washed with saline water,” she said.

Describing Dr Patnaik as doctor, Dr Saple said he was amazing with children. “He was genuinely concerned about his patients. We had many patients in common. In case, a patient could not afford treatment, used to check what can be done to help him/her. It is shocking that someone did this ghastly thing to him,” she added.