Dehradun, India-Nicole Friedland, Interplast chief development officer. Photo by John Urban.
We can all tell from Prachi's beautiful smile and happy nature that she is easily one for the most popular girls in her school. The problem is she's been held back three grades, because she so frequently can’t attend that she's fallen behind. Prachi's loose synthetic dress caught fire when she stepped over a lantern. Her thighs and groin area were badly burned and contracted together so she could not separate her thighs, and her entire genital area was covered in scar tissue.
This case quickly emerged as the most important one for the team. The doctors felt they had the chance to give this little girl her future back. We also worried that she is on the cusp of menstruation which will raise new serious complications for her. She's about 11 now. The doctors debated this case heavily, considering doing an entire release or a release in two stages with separate surgeries over the coming year. The concern was that her burns were so significant that the full release might be too much pain for her to endure. There are limited narcotics available, even to doctors, in India and the team felt torn between the ethical need to release her legs and the ethics of choosing a course that could result in excruciating pain for a child.
The surgery was completed on Thursday. The doctors informed us that the scar tissue was simply between her two thighs and her groin is completely untouched by the scars. They bandaged her thighs and we all breathed a great sigh of release. Now Prachi can walk and run and go to school. She can grow in to a woman and have future children of her own.
We've been visiting Prachi in the recovery ward and she's doing fine with the pain. Every time we see her she asks immediately, "When can I get up and walk?!"
Soon. Very soon.