Surgeries on Mayapuri radiation victims feature in global journal


Nearly three years after accidental radiation exposure left them with ulcers that did not heal, two scrap dealers have undergone "successful" reconstructive surgeries, which have been featured in the Journal of Wound Care.

Ajai Jain (43) and Deepak Jain (33), owners of scrap material shops in Mayapuri, West Delhi, were accidentally exposed to Cobalt-60, leading to "non-healing ulcers".

Ajai had ulcers on the hip and thigh. The source was a a tiny "pin" of the radioactive material that he had kept unknowingly in his wallet for 20 days. Deepak who was exposed to radiation from the scrap that he had brought, sustained burns which left an ulcer on his upper arm. The decay of Cobalt-60 results in gamma radiation, which is known to have high penetrative effects in the tissues.

Dr S S Gambhir, consultant plastic surgeon at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, where plastic and reconstructive surgery of the two patients was done after initial treatment at the Army (Research and Referral) Hospital, said, "In India, there is hardly any experience of accidental radiation exposure injuries. We do have some experience of treating ulcers in patients who undergo radiotherapy for cancer, but it is localised radiation, in a predetermined, monitored quantity."

But in accidental exposure, the quantum of radiation exposure cannot be predicted and can affect any part of the body. The effects can spread with time, Dr Gambhir said.

In Ajai's case, the ulcers were only in the anterior part of his body, but after nearly a year, "patches" started appearing on the front of his thigh as well.

Doctors had to surgically clean the wounds a procedure known as debridement and then take skin grafts. Flaps were surgically removed from other parts of the body and attached over the open wounds in lengthy procedures that involved at least 10 to 11 surgeries over a year.

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