Indian doctors give new life to African patient

Gurgaon: Afflicted with a rare cancer that affected a large part of his face, leaving intact only the eyes and a 10 per cent survival chance, a 22-year-old from Congo has now received a new lease of life from a city-based hospital, which reconstructed his facial structure.

Several hospitals in India and abroad had given up hope for Nkosi who suffered 90 per cent cancer in mouth, lip, cheeks, jaw bone and part of his tongue which left him unable to speak and eat since past four years.

"This is the sixth such case of its kind in the world. When Nkosi approached us five months ago, his condition was horrific and his mother had lost all hopes after her son was denied treatment everywhere," Rakesh Durkhure, who led a team of surgeons who operated on Nkosi at Gurgaon based Paras hospital told PTI.

"The poor guy had not been able to even speak, chew and eat for four years. His mother used to feed him in drops," he said.

Several hospitals in India and abroad had denied him treatment due to the risk of death involved.

Durkhure performed the surgery in three stages with the final surgery slated in six months time.

"We have performed his surgery in three stages and finally been able to bring back his voice. A third surgery will be performed after six months when we will carve out his lips and mouth" the doctor said.

The schedule in the first stage of the operation involved four sessions of chemotherapy to decrease the bulk of cancer. Holes were drilled in the front in the neck to enable temporary breathing and higher dose of antibiotics given to reduce infection.

"In the second stage, we removed both his cheeks, upper jaw, lower jaw-bone, and half of the tongue. Our team used two flaps - pedicle skin from his chest to make his oral cavity and another from thigh (free flap) to cover his face. The third round comprises of a surgery after six months when his mouth and lips will be carved," said the doctor.

Only last week Nkosi`s teeth were brushed for the first time in four years. "He got emotional and was in tears," said the doctor.

Nkosi, who is now able to speak, albeit with some difficulty is going back to his native country next week with new hopes of life and is scheduled to come back for the fourth stage surgery.

"Nkosi`s relatives used to send some money from his village. We also here in our capacity, tried to help him in whatever way we could, charged only one-fourth fee.", Durkhure said.

From a person who had 10 per cent chances of survival, to having regained his voice and looking forward to get completely cured after six months, 22-year-old Nkosi couldn`t have hoped for more.