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Deadly manja slits youth's throat

Updated on January 19, 2008

Deadly manja slits youth's throat


MUMBAI: The Makar Sankranth festivities this year had a macabre touch. A stray ‘manja' (the string that's used to fly kites) nearly slit Mira Road youth Santosh Shetty's throat on Tuesday afternoon along the busy Western Express stretch between Kandivli and Borivli.

The scary incident came close on the heels of 10 people being killed in Ahmedabad on Uttarayan-three were decapitated by manja while seven were killed while chasing stray kites, either falling of terraces or being run over by vehicles. In addition, scores of birds were injured in towns and cities across the western region, their feet and wings entangled in the razor-sharp manja.

The ‘manja' is believed to be a Chinese variant which has a nylon-like texture. As the Chinese-make doesn't break at all-meaning no one can ‘cut' your kite-it has been a hit in Mumbai this year. But for Shetty, it nearly cost him his life.

The ‘manja' sliced Shetty's larynx (the uppermost part of the voice box) and the surrounding muscles that are 3 to 4 cm in thickness, said ENT surgeon Dr Makarand Damle, who operated on Shetty at Borivli's Suvarna Hospital.

He now has a temporary breathing pipe to help him. He can't speak and he shivers violently every few minutes (due to throat irritation, say doctors). Shetty, who owns a placement agency in Malad, signals with his right hand to answer questions: No, he wasn't speeding nor did he fall off his bike when the ‘manja' cut through his neck muscles. A passerby guided him to the hospital which called up his mother and didn't ask for money before wheeling him in for an emergency operation, adds his sister Yashoda. No one however asked 27-year-old Shetty or managed to get information on where exactly his accident took place. "We have been so consumed with his accident that we didn't bother with such details," adds his sister.

Shetty will remain in hospital for a few more days, but the breathing tube may be in place for around two weeks.

Indeed, unlike the 10 unfortunate men in Gujarat, Shetty has been lucky. "He came to us with a huge cut along his neck, a lot of bleeding and a breathing problem. But if he had been cut a centimetre or more lower, he would possibly have needed a breathing tube for the rest of his life," says Dr Damle. The doctor believes that because the accident occurred close to a hospital and emergency treatment was available, the outlook is bright for Shetty. "His wounds should heal within a fortnight or a month and he should be as good as new," says Dr Damle.

Every Makar Sankranti, doctors brace themselves for the "usual injuries", says KEM Hospital's director Dr M E Yeolekar. "Typically, we would see people with muscular-skeletal injuries after people fall from heights whileflying kites. The other injuries are minor cuts on fingers sustained while handling ‘manja'," Dr Yeolekar says, adding that this year his hospital didn't see any major cases.

At Suvarna Hospital, Shetty's entry-on his bike-at 2.30 pm led to high drama. Even as the medical staff tracked numbers from his mobile phone to call his home, doctors stabilized him in the ICU. "It was only as he was being wheeled into the operation theatre around 3 pm that his family landed from Mira Road," says medical director Dr B Vakil.

The only male sibling in his family (he has four sisters), Shetty wanted to teach his nephews to fly kites like an expert and left office early on Tuesday. "I know my brother will fly a kite next year, but he certainly won't be thoughtless to cause such accidents," says his sister.



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