Rajendra Panchal was barely a year old when a road accident left him with a deformity called Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) ankyloses. The condition fuses the joint of the face to the skull and in many cases, requires the patient to undergo a joint replacement.
Rajendra’s condition grew increasingly serious and resulted in an almost complete closure of mouth. Unfortunately, his family could not afford surgery due to their limited means. However, they had no idea that a toothache would change his life forever.
Ever since the accident, Rajendra, who is now a 39-year-old, was unable to open his jaw enough to consume solid foods and was surviving on a liquid diet. Although malnourished, Rajendra pushed through. For the past few months, however, he started complaining of a severe toothache.
After a thorough examination, doctors realised that reaching the aching tooth was impossible due to TMJ.
Rajendra’s case was then handed over to a team of doctors at the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial surgery in the MA Rangoonwala College of Dental Sciences and Research Centre (MARDC).
Dr Aruna Tambuwala, the HOD, told Pune Mirror, “We diagnosed the condition and after realising his socio-economic status, we took the matter to the management and were permitted to conduct the surgery free of cost.”
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However, this was not the end of Rajendra’s problems. His blood group is a rare O-ve, and he could not even open his mouth to be anaesthetised.
“To make the surgery possible, a postgraduate student from the department funded the blood which we luckily managed to procure within a short span of time,” Tambuwala told Pune Mirror. “To overcome the second issue, we performed a sophisticated fibro optic intubation. The surgery was conducted by our team which took more than four hours, during which his fused skull bone was released, and we achieved a satisfactory opening in the mouth of 45 mm. The procedure was performed by Dr JB Garde and Dr Gaurav Khutwad.”
Another member of the team of doctors, Dr Manisha Bijlani, said that Rajendra was kept in the ICU after the surgery, and could open his mouth up to 40 mm after the second day of the operation and also consumed solid food. He was discharged on January 5.
Rajendra told Pune Mirror, “I have slowly started eating food now and will soon be able to eat like regular people. It is heartening to know that there are hospitals that are doing good work and are not merely chasing fees.”